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French authorities ask fans to report Champions League final crimes

Liverpool and Real Madrid fans who were victims of crime at the Champions League final have been told they can file complaints to the French authorities.

French authorities ask fans to report Champions League final crimes
Liverpool fans stand outside unable to get in in time to the UEFA Champions League final at the Stade de France in Saint-Denis, north of Paris (Photo by THOMAS COEX / AFP)

Numerous supporters attending Real’s 1-0 win against Liverpool at the Stade de France on May 28 have alleged they were attacked by gangs of local youths before and after the match in Paris.

The wife and son of former Liverpool star Jason McAteer were allegedly assaulted and robbed as they left the stadium.

There were other similar stories from fans who claimed to have been ambushed as they returned to coaches and local transport.

Now anyone who feels they were a victim of crime at the match can lodge their complaint via an online form.

“From 6 June 2022, foreign nationals who were victims of crime during the Champions League final on 28 and 29 May 2022 can file a complaint to the French judicial authorities,” a statement on the website of the French Embassy in London said on Tuesday.

“These temporary arrangements reflect the French Government’s wish to give foreign nationals the opportunity to get in direct contact with the French judicial authorities regarding crimes of which they believe they were victims during the event.”

Investigations are already underway into the handling of security around the final.

Thousands of fans were trapped outside the Stade de France before kick-off, which was delayed for more than half-an-hour due to the problems around the stadium.

UEFA announced last week it had launched an independent review into the access issues that led to supporters being crushed and tear-gassed by French police.

European football’s governing body also apologised to all spectators “who had to experience or witness frightening and distressing events” in the build-up to the final.

Meanwhile, Steve Rotheram, the Metro Mayor of the Liverpool City Region, will appear before the French upper house of parliament on Thursday.

Rotheram will be in front of the French Standing Committees on Laws and Culture to discuss his views on what caused the Champions League final chaos.

The 60-year-old attended the final and was the victim of pickpockets, having his phone and other personal items stolen.

He had tweeted of witnessing “completely chaotic” scenes as he waited to get into the stadium, adding: “A total breakdown of control and communication outside the ground. All relevant authorities must be held accountable for this failure.”

The senators will also hear from officials of the French Football Federation, “responsible for security and reception at the Stade de France”.

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POLITICS

France says all troops left Mali, ending nine-year military mission

The last soldiers belonging to France's Barkhane operation in Mali have now left the African country, the French chiefs of staff said on Monday.

France says all troops left Mali, ending nine-year military mission

French forces have been supporting Mali against insurgents for nearly a decade, but President Emmanuel Macron decided to pull out after France and the Malian junta fell out in the wake of a military takeover.

“Today at 13H00 Paris time (1100 GMT) the final contingent of the Barkhane force still on Malian territory crossed the border between Mali and Niger,” the statement said.

The army had met the “major military logistics challenge” of the pull-out “in an orderly and safe fashion”, it added.

After ties ruptured between Paris and the junta that took power in Mali in August 2020, France began to withdraw its troops in February, as jihadist violence surged in the Sahel.

READ ALSO: Reader question: Why were French soldiers in Mali?

Friction developed over the junta’s delays in restoring civilian rule and escalated when Mali brought in Russian paramilitaries — personnel described by France as “mercenaries” from the pro-Kremlin Wagner group.

‘Prevented caliphate’

Macron on Monday congratulated the military on its nine years in Mali, saying it had “prevented the establishment of a territorial caliphate, and fought against terrorists that attack local populations and threaten Europe”. 

Most high-ranking members of the “terrorist groups” had been “neutralised”, he said, adding that 59 French soldiers had died in Mali in total.

More than 2,000 civilians have been killed in Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso since the start of the year, according to an AFP tally based on the findings of non-governmental organisation ACLED.

In this file photo taken on December 07, 2021 shows the French flag and France-led special operations logo for the new Task Force Takuba, a multinational military mission in sub-Saharan Africa’s troubled Sahel region. (Photo by Thomas COEX / AFP)

BACKGROUND: France announces withdrawal of troops from Mali

At its peak, France’s Barkhane mission had 5,100 troops among five Sahel allies, all former French colonies — Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger.

The forces have provided key support in air power, troop transport and reconnaissance. France has an air base in Niger’s capital Niamey where it has deployed drones.

After the Malian pullout, the mission will have “around 2,500” troops, Barkhane commander General Laurent Michon said last month.

The reconfigured mission will emphasise “more cooperative operations,” he said.

Frontline Niger

France will keep more than 1,000 men in Niger, where a tactical group will continue to work in partnership with the Nigerien forces.

Niger is a frontline state in the fight against jihadism as the unstable region struggles with a string of military coups.

“The democratic regression in West Africa is extremely worrying,” French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna told French MPs ahead of a trip to the region in July. 

“However, in spite of these events (and) the withdrawal from Mali, France will continue to help West African armies fight terrorist groups.”

Niger is one of the biggest recipients of French aid, receiving 143 million euros ($146 million) last year.

READ ALSO: France calls Mali’s exit from defence accords ‘unjustified’

The two sides will sign agreements for a French loan of 50 million euros and a grant of 20 million euros.

Niger, the world’s poorest country by the benchmark of the UN’s Human Development Index, has been badly hit by the jihadist insurgency that began in northern Mali in 2012 and then swept to neighbouring countries.

Niger is facing insurgencies both on its western border with Mali and Burkina Faso and on its south-eastern frontier with Nigeria.

More than a thousand troops will be deployed in Niger, providing air support and training, according to French sources.

French troops are also in Gabon, Ivory Coast and Senegal, as well as in the east of Africa, in Djibouti.

READ ALSO: Macron agrees to return Benin sculptures ‘without delay’

Macron in June asked the government and military chiefs “to rethink our overall presence on the African continent by the autumn.”

He called for “a presence that is less static and less exposed” and “a closer relationship” with African armed forces.

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