School torched as lockdown tensions continue in Paris suburbs

Residents of Paris suburb Hauts-de-Seine were involved in ongoing violence with police on Tuesday, on a night which saw nine people arrested and a primary school set on fire.

School torched as lockdown tensions continue in Paris suburbs
Photos: AFP

Neighbours in Paris’s western suburb of Hauts-de-Seine witnessed another night of violence on Tuesday, following an accident involving a motorcyclist and a police vehicle over the weekend.

Sporadic violent incidents broke out throughout the night in several areas of the départment of 1.6 million inhabitants, including a school which was partially damaged after being set on fire.

“The headmaster’s office was destroyed and two rooms were damaged,” said Hauts-de-Seine’s préfecture in a statement with regard to the Paul-Langevin primary school.

Police officers were also targeted with fireworks in Nanterre and Villeneuve-la-Garenne.

Similar violent incidents involving projectiles and rubbish containers being set alight were also reported in Seine-Saint-Denis on Tuesday night, mainly in the communes of Aulnay-sous-Bois and Montreuil.

Although no one was injured, nine people have been arrested. 

Police have been facing overnight violence in Paris's low-income suburbs since the weekend, with residents alleging heavy-handedness by officers enforcing France's strict coronavirus lockdown.

Tensions were ignited in the early hours of Saturday when a motorcyclist was injured during a police check in Villeneuve-la-Garenne commune, prompting about 50 angry bystanders to gather.

The motorcyclist, 30, was hospitalised with a broken leg and had to undergo surgery after he had crashed into the open door of a police car.


A man fires fireworks during clashes in Villeneuve-la-Garenne, in the northern suburbs of Paris. Photo: AFP

Residents allege the door was opened deliberately so that the rider would smash into it.

The man will lodge a complaint against the officers, his family and a lawyer told AFP, while prosecutors have opened an investigation.

However on Tuesday he sent out a statement asking for the violence to stop: “I’ve heard there have been clashes, that cars have been damaged and torched. I’m asking you to go home and calm down. Justice will be served”.


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French police break-up fake Bordeaux wine ring

Police investigating drug-trafficking in south west France have broken up a counterfeit Bordeaux wine ring following an eight-month investigation.

French police break-up fake Bordeaux wine ring

Prosecutors said that 100 gendarmes were involved in an operation to arrest up to 20 suspects in seven départements after the fake wine scam was discovered when fake wine labels were discovered by officers investigating a drugs ring. 

During searches, a dozen vehicles and, “a large volume of wine” were seized, they added.

They estimated that several hundred thousand bottles of Spanish wine had been passed off as being from the Médoc wine region of France.

Investigations involving a dedicated police unit revealed “a large-scale fraud organised by the owner of a vineyard in the Médoc”, police said, who obtained wine via “Spanish contacts”, bottled it at night and put fake labels on the bottles.

The fake wines were then sold “by the pallet” in several areas via “a network of official and unofficial distributors made up of companies, pensioners and self-employed people”, according to prosecutors. 

Orders amounting to several thousand bottles were sent abroad, with customers believing they were buying Bordeaux chateau wines at bargain prices, prosecutors said, when the bottles really contained “low-end wines …. from remote areas”.

Three suspects, including someone described as the ‘main instigator’ appeared before an examining magistrate on Wednesday and was charged with a variety of offences linked to fraud.

A source close to the case told AFP that the counterfeiting targeted mid-range Médoc wines, which are easier to counterfeit than the grand crus. 

“If the facts are proven, we hope that the perpetrators will be heavily condemned because these practices harm the image of Bordeaux wines and the image of all those who work well and respect the rules,” reacted the Interprofessional Council of Bordeaux Wine contacted by AFP.