French police trio face trial over falsifying evidence against British activist

Three French policemen will face trial on charges of falsifying evidence in a case brought against a British activist, prosecutors said Wednesday, a decision hailed by human rights organisations.

French police trio face trial over falsifying evidence against British activist
Illustration photo: AFP

France's CRS riot place had accused Tom Ciotkowski, a council worker from Stratford upon Avon, of being violent and insulting them while helping migrants in northern city Calais.

But a court in Boulogne-sur-Mer acquitted him in June 2019.

Ciotkowski in turn filed a complaint against three policemen and accused them of putting him on trial for “trumped up charges”.

The prosecutor's department in Boulogne-sur-Mer received the national police oversight body's report on the incident in February and decided to press charges in April.

“The facts presented by the police have proven to be false,” prosecutor Pascal Marconville told AFP.

The sergeant's report and the evidence given by his two subordinates do not “reflect reality,” he said.

The three policemen will face a criminal trial in early 2021 for the falsification of evidence. The sergeant is also charged with violence by a person entrusted with public authority.

Humanitarian organisations regularly accuse the police of harassment, but according to them it is the first time that a complaint has led to a trial.

“With police abuses and the lack of justice for these currently in the spotlight, the news that these three policemen will face prosecution is both timely and welcome,” said Amnesty International France Programme Manager Nicolas Krameyer.

The news comes amid growing scrutiny of the conduct of the police in France, where critics accuse the force of entrenched racism and brutality.

“Once again, video footage of the incident has made these charges possible.

They are the shield against the logic of impunity systematically sought by the police,” said Ciotkowski's lawyers, Appoline Cagnat and William Bourdon.

“The charges are a strong signal in sharp contrast with the presumption of credibility invariably attributed to police officers, even if there are many opposing testimonies,” they said.

According to France's riot police, Ciotkowski had “shoved (the policeman) in the chest” and called him a “bitch bastard”, prompting the officer to push back in self-defence, causing him to fall over a security barrier.

In footage of the incident released by Amnesty, Ciotkowski explains how a policeman twice kicked a volunteer then hit a woman next to him.

“I felt lucky that I hadn't died really. None of us had done anything wrong,” said Ciotkowski.

Contacted by AFP, the policemen did not wish to comment.

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France charges teen over ‘imminent terror attack’ plot

French authorities have charged an 18-year-old man on suspicion of planning an imminent terror attack with a knife in the name of Islamic State (IS) jihadists, a judicial source said on Wednesday.

France charges teen over 'imminent terror attack' plot

Initial investigations indicated that he planned to carry out a terror attack “in the name of IS, to which he had pledged allegiance,” said the source, who asked not to be named, adding that the man had been detained in the Drome region of southeast France and charged in Paris.

The source added that the man had been detained in the Drome region of southeast France and charged in Paris.

The man, from a Muslim family, had adopted extremist views and was considered a threat, sparking France’s anti-terror prosecutors office (PNAT) to open an investigation on May 19, a source close to the case said.

Police arrested him on Friday and a video of him swearing allegiance to IS was found in his possession.

The source did not say whom he was planning to target in the attack or in which location.

France saw a wave of jihadist attacks from 2015 that left hundreds dead and pushed the country to its highest level of security alert.

There has been no repeat of a mass atrocity in the last years, but there have been several deadly attacks carried out by lone individuals

More to follow