Farmers want project in south-west France to go ahead and say authorities are not doing enough to resolve situation or keep activists from site.
The French state knew almost immediately what caused the death of 21-year-old student Rémi Fraisse at an eco-protest on October 26th, but sought to hide the facts for 48 hours. That is the clear implication of the initial findings of the independent judicial investigation into Fraisse's death at the Sivens dam protest in south-west France, details of which have been seen by Mediapart. These preliminary findings, backed by witness statements from gendarmes at the site, show that the forces of law and order were aware straight away that the botany student had died directly as a result of an 'offensive' grenade thrown by one of them. In an emotional statement the student's family has formally asked President François Hollande to explain why the government took two days to recognise what happened, and why a grenade packed with explosives was thrown at Rémi in the first place.
More questions are being raised about the deployment and actions of gendarmes during the eco-protest in which 21-year-old botany student Rémi Fraisse was killed in south-west France in the early hours of October 26th. Mediapart can reveal that during that night officers threw or fired around 400 grenades at opponents of the Sivens dam project. It has also emerged that despite an earlier agreement with protesters that policing of the planned demonstration would be low-key, officers were later ordered by the local state prefect to show “extreme firmness”. Meanwhile both opponents of the dam project and security experts have questioned why officers were told to engage the protesters at all, given there was nothing to defend at the rural site and that all the preliminary clearing work had been completed. And a new witness has come forward casting doubt on some of the official accounts of the gendarmes' action in the lead up to Rémi Fraisse's death. Louise Fessard reports.
Authority in charge of the project in the south-western Tarn region decided to freeze work on the dam but did not definitively scrap it.
The death of 21-year-old botany student Rémi Fraisse following clashes between gendarmes and opponents of a dam project in south-west France has led to major political fallout, as well as being a personal tragedy. President François Hollande's government has been accused of being too slow to react to the tragic events, and then of siding too much and too quickly with the security forces and of having ignored warnings about “violent” policing at the protest site. Ministers have meanwhile accused green politicians of seeking to make political capital out of the death and of prejudging the outcome of judicial investigations. The under-pressure interior minister Bernard Cazeneuve has now stopped the use of so-called 'offensive' grenades of the type believed to have caused the death of Rémi Fraisse, while the building of the dam itself has been suspended. Louise Fessard, Jade Lindgaard, Nicolas Bérard and Mathieu Magnaudeix examine the repercussions of the tragedy and look at the background to what the lawyer for the victim's family has described as an “unprecedented state scandal”.
An investigation is underway to determine whether the 21-year-old was killed by a police grenade during the violent clashes in SW France.