French police to stand trial over youths' deaths

22nd October 2010, Comments 0 comments

Two police officers will stand trial over the deaths of two youths in a Paris suburb, the spark for weeks of rioting that drew worldwide attention in 2005, a lawyer involved in the case said Friday.

Magistrates investigating the deaths referred the case to a criminal court for the officers to face charges of failing to assist a person in danger, Jean-Pierre Mignard, a lawyer for the families of the victims, told AFP.

The two youths, Zyed Benna and Bouna Traore, died from being electrocuted when they climbed into an electricity substation as they tried to escape police chasing them in the Paris of suburb of Clichy-sous-Bois in October 2005.

Their deaths sparked violent riots and clashes between youths and police which spread to cities across France.

Lawyers for the dead youths said the police officers had reason to suspect the two had entered the installation and did not call the emergency services.

A prosecutor in September had called for the case to be dismissed, causing anger and disappointment in Clichy-sous-Bois, which like many of France's run-down urban districts suffers from tension between locals and police.

"It is very satisfying. I am very happy," Bouna's brother, Siyakha Traore, told AFP, reacting to Friday's decision.

"We had practically lost hope," said Mehdi Bigaderne, leader of a local association.

"This is a cause for joy. For five years now we have been demanding this trial," he added. "The families still have not mourned. The start of the trial will help them."

The lawyer for the police officers, Daniel Merchat, said: "Given how much this has affair has been covered in the media, it was going to be difficult to have a final decision made in the privacy of the investigators' offices."

© 2010 AFP

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