Police take blame for deaths that sparked riots

7th December 2006, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Dec 7, 2006 (AFP) - A French internal police inquiry has severely criticised the police for failing to prevent the electrocution of two youths whose deaths touched off last year's riots, a lawyer said on Thursday.

PARIS, Dec 7, 2006 (AFP) - A French internal police inquiry has severely criticised the police for failing to prevent the electrocution of two youths whose deaths touched off last year's riots, a lawyer said on Thursday.

According to Jean-Pierre Mignard, who represents the dead teenagers' families, a report carried out by the police investigation service IGS found the officers involved to have behaved "thoughtlessly, with surprising absent-mindedness".

The deaths in October 2005 of 15-year-old Bouna Traore and 17-year-old Zyed Benna, from the north Paris suburb of Clichy-sous-Bois, were the spark for three weeks of rioting in high-immigration suburbs across France.

Based on analysis of radio exchanges, the report confirms the pair were chased by police into a power sub-station, and that the officers did nothing to ensure their safety despite knowing them to be inside the dangerous site.

It says due process would have been to alert the power provider Electricité de France, though it stresses even this may not have saved the youths' lives.

The report, first revealed by Le Monde newspaper on Thursday, has been handed to the judge probing the teenagers' deaths.

Five police officers have been questioned as witnesses in an investigation into "failure to assist a person in danger".

The boys' families on Wednesday launched additional legal action for the more serious count of "deliberately endangering another person's life," partly on the basis of the IGS report, their lawyer said.

The 2005 riots cast a spotlight on France's problems in integrating its large Arab and black immigrant population, many of whom live concentrated in poor suburban areas.

The violence left more than 10,000 cars and 300 buildings torched.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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