French Policeman Detained in Connection with Shooting in Marseille Riots

French Policeman Detained in Connection with Shooting in Marseille Riots

A French policeman suspected of shooting a 22-year-old man in the head with a rubber bullet during riots in Marseille a month ago has been ordered to stay in pre-trial detention. The decision to detain the officer has sparked outrage among colleagues across France.

The victim, Hedi, an assistant restaurant manager, suffered severe injuries and disfigured skull from the “flash ball” rubber bullet. The officer admitted to firing his riot gun once but claimed not to have seen anyone injured on the ground. His lawyer argued that there was no evidence he had hit the victim.

The suspect is one of four policemen facing prosecution for violence by a group with authority related to the riots that erupted across France in early July. The unrest was sparked by the shooting death of 17-year-old Nahel during a traffic check in Nanterre near Paris.

Hedi, a North African immigrant, survived the head wound but has experienced vision loss in his left eye, migraines, and difficulty walking without a helmet due to the loss of part of his skull.

Despite his lawyer’s appeal for release and support from the head of national police and police unions, the court ruled that the officer should remain in pre-trial detention due to serious indications of his involvement in the incident. The judge cited the officer’s initial denial and subsequent partial confession as discrediting his account.

Hedi’s lawyer, Jacques Preziosi, welcomed the decision to keep the officer in custody, stating that finally there was a confession that he had fired the “flash ball.”

The incident has caused widespread anger among other police officers, with approximately 5% taking sick leave or working to rule in protest of the detention.

The use of “flash-ball” rubber bullets by French police has come under scrutiny due to the number of life-changing injuries and deaths caused in recent years. In the same night as Hedi’s shooting, another man was shot and killed, and his cousin suffered an eye injury.

The detention of the officer has raised concerns about the treatment of police and brought attention to the need for accountability within the system.