Proceedings fast-tracked to try dozens accused of rioting

Some of the accused had long criminal records for violent crime and clashing with the police, but others included a 21-year-old with a master's in finance.
Some of the accused had long criminal records for violent crime and clashing with the police, but others included a 21-year-old with a master's in finance.PHOTO: EPA

PARIS • The first group from dozens of people charged over rioting at the weekend in Paris appeared in court on Monday in fast-tracked proceedings.

Fifty-seven suspects face a range of public order charges over the violence. They include people from diverse backgrounds who joined the third round of "yellow vest" anti-government protests last Saturday which degenerated into some of the worst such violence in Central Paris for decades.

Some of the men had long criminal records for violent crime and clashing with the police, but others included a 21-year-old with a master's in finance.

The strain on police and the justice system caused by so many cases was also evident as proceedings began in five separate courtrooms at a new complex in the north-west of Paris.

"The conditions for the defence are completely unacceptable," one lawyer complained, adding that she had six clients and had spent only a few minutes with each of them.

Many suspects opted to have their trials deferred to prepare their defence, with hearings set to resume next year.

In one case, a 50-year-old nurse from Nice was acquitted immediately after the prosecution failed to provide any evidence that he had joined the rioting.

The man, who said he was anti-violence and a regular practitioner of yoga, claimed he was arrested by riot police randomly while walking in the Bastille area of the city.

At least one individual faced rape charges after being accused of assault during the demonstrations, a judicial source said. At least 10 people were in custody accused of vandalising the famous Arc de Triomphe monument.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 05, 2018, with the headline 'Proceedings fast-tracked to try dozens accused of rioting'. Print Edition | Subscribe