French police officer accused of violence during riots kept in custody

PARIS (Reuters) – A French police officer accused of violence will remain in custody as he awaits trial over allegations he and three colleagues badly injured a 22-year old during riots in Marseille last month, a court ruled on Thursday, according to BFM TV.

Violent protests broke out in several French cities at the end of June and continued for days after a 17 year-old of North African descent was shot dead by a policeman after he failed to comply with an order to stop his car.

His death and the subsequent unrest fuelled a debate about police misconduct and the judicial treatment of alleged abuses by law enforcement authorities.

The case at the centre of Thursday’s ruling concerned the detention of a police officer charged with causing severe injuries to 22-year old Hedi in the early hours of July 2.

The victim’s head is disfigured and his vision impaired due to the impact of a rubber bullet and after doctors operated on his skull, Hedi has said in interviews with the French media. He has said he was also beaten by police.

The officer’s incarceration prompted a go-slow protest by colleagues, which has disrupted court activity, while government representatives have tried to appease the discontent within the police force.

In court on Thursday, the detained officer said he had shot a rubber bullet, but denied having hit Hedi while he was on the ground, according to French media reports from the public hearing. His lawyer said there was no evidence that was the bullet that hit Hedi, Le Monde and other media reported.

(Reporting by Layli Foroudi and Juliette Jabkhiro; Editing by Ingrid Melander)