Athletics champion fined for biting police officer

2nd December 2008, Comments 0 comments

Eunice Barber denounced verdict and insisted she was the victim of police brutality where police wrestled her to the ground to handcuff her in 2006.

2 December 2008

BOBIGNY – France's former Athletics world champion Eunice Barber was ordered Tuesday to pay a EUR 5,000 fine for resisting arrest, insulting and biting a police officer.

But the 34-year-old athlete denounced the verdict as "worse than injustice" after the hearing near Paris, insisting she was the victim of police brutality during the run-in with officers in the suburb of Saint Denis two years ago.

"I am guilty of nothing at all," Barber, who won heptathlon and long jump world titles for France in 1999 and 2003, said after the hearing, vowing to appeal. "They (the police) know what they did."

The Sierra Leone-born athlete claims she was slapped on the face after she opened her car window to talk to an officer who stopped her when she turned down a street that was temporarily barred. The officer denied the accusation.

Six officers wrestled her to the ground to handcuff her, in a struggle that was caught on amateur video and posted on the Internet.

Barber says the police described her as a "cannibal" as they brought her in to the station, where she spent 28 hours in custody.

At her trial in October, she said she bit the officer "to protect" her body, her "source of work" and accused the police of humiliating her, "perhaps out of racism".

Barber was also sentenced to pay the six officers between EUR 350 and 1,050 each in damages plus EUR 700 in legal costs.

The prosecution had been seeking a two-month suspended sentence.

The athlete won heptathlon gold at the 1999 world championships and long jump gold in 2003.

She competed for Sierra Leone in the 1992 and 1996 Olympics and for France in 2000 and 2004 but never won a medal.

[AFP / Expatica]

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