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Paris officer charged over fatal election night shooting

A French policeman has been charged with involuntary manslaughter after shooting dead a driver and passenger on the Pont-Neuf in the centre of Paris, hours after Emmanuel Macron celebrated re-election nearby, a judicial source said.

Paris officer charged over fatal election night shooting
The shooting happened on the Pont-Neuf in the cente of Paris. Photo by Ludovic MARIN / AFP

The 24-year-old officer fired his assault rifle at the car after it failed to stop for a police check on the picturesque Pont Neuf bridge, later claiming that he acted in self-defence.

Two of the occupants of the car – including the driver – died at the scene, while a third person was injured.

The officer was immediately taken in for questioning by the police’s internal investigations agency, and prosecutors determined it was more likely that the officer had responded with excessive force.

Around a dozen rounds were fired, with “five or six shots hitting the occupants,” according to a police report of the incident seen by AFP.

The officer went before a judge who decided late on Wednesday to charge him with involuntary manslaughter for the death of the driver, the legal source said.

Lesser charges of “wilful violence by a person in authority” were issued over the death of the front-seat passenger, and the injury of a person in the back seat.

He was ordered to turn in his gun and prohibited from any police duties involving contact with the public.

The decision was slammed as “unacceptable” by the right-leaning Alliance police officers’ union, which called for a demonstration to defend “the presumption of legitimate defence” in front of the historic Paris courthouse on Monday.

The police report said the car was parked the wrong way with its hazard lights flashing on the banks of the Seine, prompting the five-person foot patrol to investigate, according to the police report.

When confronted, the driver suddenly sped off towards one officer who managed to jump out of the way.

The two occupants who were killed had extensive criminal records, including for drug charges.

While police in France went unarmed while on routine patrols for years, authorities began issuing assault rifles after the mass jihadist terror killing in Paris on November 13th, 2015, which were followed by a wave of other deadly Islamist attacks.

Security forces have been on high alert since the marathon trial for the November 2015 attacks, France’s worst post-war atrocity, opened in September.

The 20 defendants include Salah Abdeslam, the only surviving attacker, who after years of silence claimed in testimony this month that he had a last-minute change of heart and decided not to set off his explosive vest.

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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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