Three French police personnel face trial for arrest of young black man

Three French police personnel face trial for arrest of young black man


Three French police personnel face trial for arrest of young black man

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(AFP) - Théo Luhaka, then aged 22, suffered severe anal injuries from a police telescopic baton used during a stop and search check in the working-class suburb of Aulnay-sous-Bois, north of Paris.

CCTV showed police forcing the young black man to the ground and beating him after he resisted the check.

His injuries were so bad he needed emergency surgery and was left disabled for life.

"I died that day," Luhaka recently told Le Parisien daily.

The incident, which came just a few months after another young black man, Adama Traoré, died in police custody, prompted rioting and demonstrations in a number of city suburbs in France.

From his hospital bed, Luhaka called for calm.

Excessive force

Seven years after one of France's most publicised cases of alleged police brutality, three officers are being sent to a criminal trial, charged with deliberately using excessive force.

Marc-Antoine Castelain, 34, was initially accused of aggravated rape but is being tried on the charge of "assault with a weapon leading to permanent injury or mutilation".

He denies the allegations and maintains he was targeting Luhaka's legs.

If found guilty he faces up to 15 years in prison and a €150,000 fine.
Two of the other officers involved in the attack – Jérémie Dulin, 42, and Tony Hochart, 31 – are being tried for deliberate violence with aggravating circumstances.

Charges against a fourth officer who witnessed the violent arrest were dropped.


"After seven years of investigation, Théo and his family are awaiting the trial with a good deal of anxiety," said their lawyer Antoine Vey, adding that there was "no justification" for such violence.

In 2020 an inquiry by the internal police watchdog (IGPN) found a "disproportionate use of force and a failure in the duty to protect a person held by the police".

The IGPN report stated the two baton blows had been delivered when "Théo Luhaka was posing no physical threat to the police carrying out the arrest".

An investigation by France's independent rights defender in November of that year called for the policemen to be punished. Claire Hédon said that the use of tear gas, punches, and kicks when Luhaka was handcuffed on the ground showed "there were no legal grounds to justify the use of force towards him".