Verdict expected in French police case that set off 2005 riots

2015-05-18 11:48
A rioter throws a projectile at French police officers. (Pierre Andrieu, AFP)

A rioter throws a projectile at French police officers. (Pierre Andrieu, AFP)

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Paris - A French court was expected to issue a verdict on Monday in a decade-old dispute over the role of police officers in the electrocution deaths of two teens that set off weeks of riots in the suburbs surrounding Paris in 2005.

Sebastian Gaillemin, aged 41, and Stephanie Klein, aged 38, faced charges of knowingly failing to assist people in danger after three boys were electrocuted - two fatally - in 2005 while hiding in a high-voltage power station.

Residents in the Parisian high-rise suburb of Clichy-sous-Bois said Zyed Benna, aged 17, and Bouna Traore, aged 15, were trying to avoid an identity check by the police. A third teen they hid with was seriously injured, but survived.

The deaths triggered a revolt among suburban youths, mainly of North African origin, who rioted for three weeks to protest discrimination and police harassment, torching thousands of cars and several public buildings.

The officers were cleared by internal police investigations and various pre-trial hearings. But the country's highest court overturned the dismissal of a criminal case against the two officers in 2012, paving the way for the current trial.

If convicted, the officers face up to five years in prison and fines up to $79 000.

While many members of the victims' families have said they simply want a decision, some people have called for protests if the police officers are acquitted.

Amid widespread distrust of the justice system, there were fears of a resurgence of violence in the outskirts of Paris and community leaders called for demonstrations to remain peaceful.

Read more on:    france

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