Protest turns violent over Paris police rape allegation

Protesters escape tear gas during clashes with French riot police in Bobigny, a suburb of Paris, on Saturday night. They were protesting in support of Theo, a 22-year-old man who was allegedly sodomized Feb. 2 with a police baton during a police check. Photo by Yoan Valat/EPA

Feb. 12 (UPI) — A peaceful protest turned violent Saturday night in Paris over allegations of rape by a police officer nine days earlier.

Authorities used tear gas after a small group threw projectiles in Bobigny in the northeastern suburbs of Paris where a large immigrant community lives. About 2,000 people rallied outside the courthouse.

“Several vehicles, including a media truck, were set on fire and police officers had to intervene to rescue a young child trapped in a burning vehicle,” a statement from the Paris police prefecture said.

A 22-year-old man — identified only by his first name, Theo — was arrested Feb. 2 in the neighboring district of Aulnay-Sous-Bois by officers who were checking ID documents.

During his arrest, the man alleged that one officer sodomized him with a police baton.

In a Feb. 5 statement, the French Interior Ministry said one officer was being formally investigated for suspected rape and three others for “deliberate violence in a group.”

Police investigating the incident announced Thursday that they believed the alleged rape was unintentional.

A police source told news channel France 24 that video showed a policeman “applying a truncheon blow horizontally across the buttocks with a truncheon” and Theo’s clothes “slipped down on their own.”

The case led to a week of demonstrations. Cars and refuse bins were torched Tuesday and disturbances resumed Saturday night.

On Saturday, protesters also destroyed storefronts and produce.

Demonstrators held placards reading “police rapes” and “police kills innocents.”

Earlier Saturday, four people were arrested in the Mediterranean port city of Marseilles during a march against police violence, officials said. Similar protests occurred in other French cities, including Toulouse and Orleans.


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