Police convicted over deaths that sparked riots

France's top appeals court on Wednesday overturned a ruling clearing two police officers of involvement in the deaths of two teenagers in a Paris suburb, the spark for weeks of rioting that drew worldwide attention in 2005.

The ruling was hailed by the families of the victims Zyed Benna, 17, and Bouna Traore,15, who were electrocuted when they climbed into an electricity substation as they tried to escape police chasing them in the Paris of suburb of Clichy-sous-Bois in October 2005.

Last year a lower court had dropped charges against the two officers who had been accused of failing to help to rescue the teenagers, citing lack of evidence.

But on Wednesday, the appeals court overturned that decision, saying that the police officers should have checked if the teenagers were indeed in the substation and, if so, come to their aid.

"It's a great day," said Traore's brother Siyakha. "I am relieved, now things will go ahead. I am waiting for explanations."

Lawyers for the dead youths said the police officers had reason to suspect the two had entered the installation and did not call the emergency services.

"The case will be judged, it will not be snuffed out," said Jean-Pierre Mignard, adding that youths would now be assured "that there is justice in this country.

"We are sure that these two youths were really victims."

Clichy-sous-Bois, like many of France's run-down urban districts, suffers from tension between locals and police.

Radio exchanges between the police revealed one officer saying: "If they enter (the substation) it's very likely they are going to die."

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.


Two mountaineers killed and 9 injured in ice fall in Swiss mountains

A Frenchwoman and a Spaniard were killed and nine other mountaineers were injured on Friday in an ice fall in southwest Switzerland, police said following a rescue attempt involving several helicopters.

Two mountaineers killed and 9 injured in ice fall in Swiss mountains

Police received calls at 6.20 am reporting that mountaineers had been caught up in falling seracs — columns of glacial ice formed by crevasses — on the Grand Combin, a glacial massif near the Italian border in the Wallis region.

Seven helicopters with mountain rescue experts flew to the scene, finding 17 mountaineers split among several groups.

“Two people died at the scene of the accident,” Wallis police said in a statement. They were a 40-year-old Frenchwoman and a 65-year-old man from Spain.

Nine mountaineers were airlifted to hospitals in nearby Sion and in Lausanne. Two of them are seriously injured, police said.

Other mountaineers were evacuated by helicopter.

The regional public prosecutor has opened an investigation “to determine the circumstances of this event”, the police said.

The serac fall happened at an altitude of 3,400 metres in the Plateau de Dejeuner section along the Voie du Gardien ascent route.

The Grand Combin massif has three summits above 4,000 metres, the highest of which is the Combin de Grafeneire at 4,314 metres.

The police issued a note of caution about setting off on such high-altitude expeditions.

“When the zero-degree-Celsius isotherm is around 4,000 metres above sea level, it is better to be extra careful or not attempt the route if in doubt,” Wallis police said.

“The golden rule is to find out beforehand from the mountain guides about the chosen route and its current feasibility.”