Demonstrator in coma - serious allegations against the French police

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Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Protests against the CPE at the Université Paris 6

During the large demonstration against the impending so-called First Employment Contract law (in French: Contrat de Première Embauche - CPE) on Saturday in Paris, one of the demonstrators was perilously injured in the head. Now, allegations have been brought against the French riot police Compagnies Républicaines de Sécurité (CRS). Eyewitnesses report that officers of the CRS kicked 39-year-old Cyril Ferez while he was lying on the ground. A report of a CRS-officer draws a different picture of the incident.

The incident happened during the evacuation of the Place de la Nation by the CRS at the end of the demonstration against the first employment contracts at about 8.30 p.m. Cyril Ferez works for the Orange telecommunication company in Torcy and is a member of the trade union Sud-PTT, which represents workers at post offices and telecommunication companies. According to the photographer Bruno Stevens, Cyril Ferez was running away from the police, together with some other demonstrators. "He was slower. He was hit directly on the head. He collapsed like a sack. They hit him further while he was lying on the ground," the photographer told the French newspaper Libération. While he was hit by the police, he did not react in any hostile way towards them, said another photographer, Victor Tonelli. The police are said to have hit the demonstrator with night sticks and with their feet. The trade union Sud-PTT accuses the police of not having called for medical help for the injured person, despite having been called to do so. The trade union demands an official meeting with the home secretary on Wednesday afternoon and calls the behaviour of the police as not being worthy of the government of a democratic state. According to a report of the press association Reuters, the seriously injured person was immediately hospitalised. According to members of the government, referring to the treating doctors, Cyril Ferez was admitted to the hospital Henri-Mondor de Créteil with 2.7 grammes of alcohol in his blood. According to a report of a CRS-officer, with a copy of it on hand of the press association AFP and relying on statements of Cyril Ferez (before he fell into his coma), the injuries are not a result of a fight between CRS-officers and Cyril Ferez. According to this report, Cyril Ferez was attacked by other demonstrators. The report was given to the police audit. Members of the opposition party and the trade unions demand a complete clearing up of the incident.

On Sunday morning, Cyril Ferez fell into a coma. The police audit "Inspection générale des services" wants to investigate the incident. Therefore, the police audit would like to find out which witnesses were on site and which officers of the CRS were involved in the incident. Doctors assume that Cyril Ferez, if he survives, will suffer from neurological consequences. Directly after the demonstration, the police prefecture had claimed that 18 demonstrators had been injured, but that there was no seriously injured person among them.

French trade unions and student organisations have announced a general strike for 28 March. On Saturday, about 1.5 million people participated in the countrywide demonstrations against CPE.

This is a translation of the article "Demonstrant im Koma – Schwere Vorwürfe gegen die französische Polizei" from German Wikinews.