French Police under investigation.

In an unusual development French police officers have been placed under investigation. The inquiry into the deaths of Zyed Benna and Bouna Traoré initially called 11 police officers to testify. Placing them under investigation for “failure to assist a person in danger”. The number of officers being investigated has since been reduced to five. Although the inquiry is independent, the inspection générale des services (The French equivalent of the PCC) has not recommended any prosecutions or punishments for the officers concerned, suggesting that the inquiry will do the same. The fact that the officers have been placed under investigation is a significant step, in France the testimony of police officers is usually held to be incontestable in court. This part of the investigation was triggered, at least in part, by the fact that the official police account was quickly proved to be false using records of police radio transmissions.

This is further illustrated by a case from Toulouse, where a judge asked the police for an explanation as to why their accounts were so different to those of dozens of witnesses. According to the Police a “giant black man” threatened to “cut off their heads with a chainsaw”. Witness statements paint a very different picture. According to them the man in question, Franck Pierro, had caused a mini traffic jam in rush hour while loading his van. The police approached him aggressively and the incident degenerated ending in the police beating Pierro with their batons while he clung to the seat of his van, choking on tear gas. The witnesses are unanimous that Pierro did not threaten the officers and that the first blow struck was by a policeman and was without warning. While this may show a new willingness on the part of the courts to question the testimony of the police (the CRS in particular are notorious for lying in court), the officers in this case denied the witnesses’ statements were true and it is Pierro who faces prison.

Posted By

jef costello
Oct 28 2006 18:35

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