French prosecutors demand trial for police officers accused of anal rape with baton

French prosecutors demand trial for police officers accused of anal rape with baton
Youth worker Théo Luhaka, left, was left with lifelong injuries. Photo: AFP
French prosecutors on Wednesday recommended a trial for three police officers in a notorious case of police brutality involving a young black man allegedly sodomised with a baton.

Théo Luhaka, who was 22 at the time, was left disabled after suffering severe anal injuries from a police baton, as well as wounds to his head and face, during a stop-and-search operation in the Paris suburb of Aulnay-sous-Bois in February 2017.

The prosecutor's office for the area said the officer accused of leading the attack should be put on trial for “assault with a weapon” leading to “mutilation or permanent partial disability”.

It also called for two other officers to be tried for “group violence”.

Luhaka, who became a symbol of rough policing tactics used against youths in the high-rise housing estates that ring Paris, had accused one of the officers of raping him with a baton.

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The officer has denied the allegations, saying he had aimed his baton at his legs.

Denouncing an “extremely violent and humiliating attack”, Luhaka's lawyer Antoine Vey said on Wednesday he was “relieved to see that, despite a lot of pressure during the investigation, the case has not been buried”.

A medical report in 2019 found that the injuries Luhaka suffered as a result of the altercation would require life-long treatment.

However, the prosecutor's office said in a statement there was not enough evidence to support a charge of “aggravated rape”.

A final decision on whether to put the officers on trial will be taken by an investigating magistrate.

In June, thousands of French people took part in the global Black Lives Matter protests sparked by the death of black American George Floyd at the hands of US police.

READ ALSO Who is Adama Traore and why are there protests around France in his name?

The protesters said Floyd's death echoed incidents in France, where several people have died or were seriously injured during police operations.

In July, three officers were charged with manslaughter over the death of delivery man Cedric Chouviat who was held in a chokehold during his arrest for a traffic offence.

Campaigners also continue to seek justice in the case of Adama Traore, a young black man who died in police custody in 2016.

Last month, Paris prosecutors launched an investigation into allegations of racism, homophobia and violence within the city's police force by a journalist who worked undercover as an officer for two years.


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