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Two men charged with attempted murder over French bus driver assault

French prosecutors on Wednesday charged two men with attempted murder after a bus driver was assaulted and left brain dead in southwestern France for refusing to let aboard a group of people who did not have tickets and were not wearing face masks.

Two men charged with attempted murder over French bus driver assault

Four men set upon 59-year-old Philippe Monguillot in Bayonne on Sunday evening after he asked three of them to wear masks and tried to check another man's ticket. 

The other two men have been charged with non-assistance to a person in danger and one has also been charged with attempting to hide a suspect, the local prosecutor's office said.

The four men made a run for it after the brutal assault and hid in one of the men's apartment, it added. Aged 22 to 23 and with police records, all have been placed in custody.

Assistant prosecutor Marc Mariee denounced an “extremely violent” attack on Tuesday after requesting that charges be filed.

“There were insults and then shoving. The bus driver was pushed out of the bus. Two individuals then violently kicked and punched the upper part of his body, including his head,” he told a press conference.

The assault on the father of three prompted an outpouring of indignation by his colleagues in Bayonne, many of whom are refusing to work until his funeral.

His was unconscious when emergency services arrived.

“It's not my father breathing, it's the ventilator. We know that it's over,” his 18-year-old daughter Marie told the Sud Ouest newspaper.

Face masks remain mandatory on public transport in France to slow the COVID-19 outbreak, which has claimed nearly 30,000 lives.

The driver's family has organised a silent march in his honour for Wednesday evening, departing from the bus stop where the assault took place.

Unions have asked transport networks across the country to stop at 7.30pm time and observe a minute of silence.

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CRIME

French court convicts 8 for stealing Banksy from Paris terror attack site

A French court on Thursday convicted eight men for the theft and handling of a Banksy painting paying homage to the victims of the 2015 attack on the Bataclan concert hall in Paris.

French court convicts 8 for stealing Banksy from Paris terror attack site

Three men in their 30s who admitted to the 2019 theft were given prison sentences, one of four years and two of three, although they will be able to serve them wearing electronic tracking bracelets rather than behind bars.

Another man, a 41-year-old millionaire lottery winner and street art fan accused of being the mastermind of the heist, was given three years in jail for handling stolen goods after judges found the main allegation unproven. His sentence will also be served with a bracelet.

Elsewhere in the capital, the defence was making its final arguments in the trial of the surviving suspects in the 2015 Paris attacks themselves, with a verdict expected on June 29.

‘Acted like vultures’ 

British street artist Banksy painted his “sad girl” stencil on the metal door of the Bataclan in memory of the 90 people killed there on November 13th, 2015.

A white van with concealed number-plates was seen stopping on January 26, 2019 in an alleyway running alongside the central Paris music venue.

Many concertgoers fled via the same alley when the Bataclan became the focal point of France’s worst ever attacks since World War II, as Islamic State group jihadists killed 130 people at a string of sites across the capital.

On the morning of the theft, three masked men climbed out of the van, cut the hinges with angle grinders powered by a generator and left within 10 minutes, in what an investigating judge called a “meticulously prepared” heist.

Prosecutor Valerie Cadignan told the court earlier this month that the perpetrators had not sought to debase the memory of the attack victims, but “being aware of the priceless value of the door were looking to make a profit”.

She said the thieves “acted like vultures, like people who steal objects without any respect for what they might represent”.

During the trial, Bataclan staff said the theft sparked “deep indignation”, adding that the painted door was a “symbol of remembrance that belongs to everyone, locals, Parisians, citizens of the world”.

Investigators pieced together the door’s route across France and into Italy, where it was found in June 2020 on a farm in Sant’Omero, near the Adriatic coast.

Three men involved in transporting the door were each jailed for 10 months, while a 58-year-old Italian man who owns a hotel where it was temporarily stored received a six-month suspended sentence.

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