Police cleared over death of boys in France riot case

French court acquits police officers over deaths of Muslim boys which sparked 2005 riots

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Updated Jul 28, 2015

A French court has acquitted two French police officers who were alleged to have played a role in the death of two young men a decade ago.

Police officers Sebastian Gaillemin and Stephanie Klein were cleared of failing to prevent the death of two Muslim boys - Bouna Traore, 15, and Zyed Benna, 17 - who were electrocuted after being chased by police and forced to hide behind a power station on Oct. 27 2005.

A third teenager, Muhittin Altun, survived the high voltage shock but suffered trauma and severe skin burns.

On the evening of the incident Gaillemin had chased the boys and watched over them as they entered a restricted power station. He did not do anything to help neither did he call for assistance from emergency services.

A recording of his communication on police radio was played during the trial. He is heard saying "If they enter the site, I wouldn't pay much for their skins."

Klein, who was in charge of police communication during the incident, heard the remark but did not take action.

The actions of the authorities were dubbed as “carelessness” and “religious profiling” and led to 21 days of mass demonstrations which turned violent.

The officers in question faced a maximum sentence of five years in prison and heavy compensation fines had they been found guilty.

A judge from one of the earlier trials made a statement saying that the case is specific to the police officers and that the whole French police force isn’t on trial.

However the trial is widely seen as symbolic of mistrust between French youth and the police force.

The lengthy progressed of the trial has left many people frustrated, with some predicting the acquittal will cause protests to flare up once again.

TRTWorld and agencies