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Suspended prison sentence for three French police officers in a case of police violence

Photo: Benoit Peyrucq via Agence France-Presse In this judicial press drawing from January 9 in the Bobigny Assize Court, we can see on the left the police officers (from left to right) Marc-Antoine Castelain, Jérémie Dulin and Tony Hochart. On the right, dressed in a blue jacket, is Théo Luhaka.

Wafaa Essalhi – Agence France-Presse in Bobigny

3:36 p.m.

  • Europe

Three French police officers were sentenced to suspended prison sentences of 3 to 12 months on Friday in the Paris region for the violent arrest in 2017 of a young black man, made into a symbol of police violence in the country.

This young man, Théo Luhaka, now 29 years old, was seriously injured in the anus with a telescopic baton and has irreversible aftereffects.

After more than nine hours of deliberation, peacekeeper Marc-Antoine Castelain was found guilty of the baton blow that seriously injured the young man. The Seine–Saint-Denis Assize Court sentenced him to 12 months in prison and a ban on practicing on public roads for 5 years.

Suspended prison sentences of 3 months were handed down against his colleagues Jérémie Dulin and Tony Hochart for intentional violence.

The attorney general had requested sentences ranging from three months to three years in prison, suspended. The court did not accept the qualification “voluntary violence resulting in mutilation or permanent infirmity”.

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In a tense atmosphere, the verdict was pronounced in a packed room, where Théo's supporters and plainclothes police officers were seated.

When he left the court, Théo Luhaka was greeted with a round of applause.

“It’s a decision of appeasement that we take as a victory,” declared Me Antoine Vey, lawyer for the civil party, in reaction.

“Shut up for the police! » chanted activists fighting against police violence, denouncing “masquerades” and holding posters showing the faces of people who died following police interventions.

“The message sent to the police is 'you can mutilate, kill, you will get a reprieve'”, criticized Amal Bentounsi, founder of the collective “Urgence la police assassine”.

Broken life

Théo Luhaka was arrested by the three officials on February 2, 2017 in a city in Seine–Saint-Denis, the poorest department in mainland France.

According to images filmed by city cameras, the young man resisted his arrest and, during a fight, Mr. Castelain struck a blow with the tip of his telescopic defense stick through the woman's underwear. victim. This blow causes his sphincter to rupture and a wound ten centimeters deep.

The affair had a national impact and the president at the time, François Hollande (socialist), went to visit Théo Luhaka during his convalescence in the hospital.

Despite two surgical operations, the latter has since suffered from incontinence and has irreversible after-effects, according to medical experts.

He said he “felt violated” during the trial.

The police officer had expressed his “compassion” for the victim, but considered that it was a “legitimate blow”, “taught in school”.

Added to this gesture were tear gas shots, knee strikes and punches delivered by the peace guards when Théo was handcuffed on the ground.

An administrative investigation by the General Inspectorate of the National Police (IGPN) concluded that there was “a disproportionate use of force”, while in an independent report, the Defender of Rights denounced “the accumulation of breaches” in this case.

Marc-Antoine Castelain's lawyer estimated as he left the courtroom that “for the first time in the eyes of the whole of France, the fact has been established, as he has been saying since first day, that he is not a criminal.” “It’s a huge relief,” he also said.

The three agents were transferred to their original regions.

The police headquarters could pronounce “possible disciplinary sanctions” following the judicial decision. The main convict risks being expunged.

Since this affair, the debate on the maintenance of order and the use of force has continued to resurface, as last June, with the death of Nahel, a 17-year-old killed during a traffic stop by police fire and whose death led to a week of riots.

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116