Viry-Châtillon

French police accused of 'doctoring' statements that led to wrongful convictions face legal probe

France

Prosecution authorities in France have opened an investigation into police officers who are suspected of having truncated the statements of a key witness and some suspects in relation to a petrol bomb attack on a police patrol car at Viry-Châtillon in the southern suburbs of Paris in 2016. Largely as a result of this doctored evidence some innocent youths were jailed in 2019 and were only released on appeal in April this year. The launch of this new investigation follows formal complaints by five lawyers representing some of those accused, as previously revealed by Mediapart. Pascale Pascariello and Antton Rouget report.

Dodgy dossier: scandal of investigation into petrol bomb attack on French police

France— Investigation

On April 18th 2021 five youths were found guilty on appeal of an attack in 2016 in which two police officers were set ablaze when their patrol car was pelted with petrol bombs in a Paris suburb. The five were given jail terms of between six and 18 years. Eight other youths were acquitted. The appeal verdicts, which were more lenient than the original trial in 2019, caused outrage among some politicians and led to a protest march by angry police officers. But Mediapart can reveal that the real scandal was the way in which police detectives ran the initial investigation into the brutal attack in Viry-Châtillon. Officers truncated or cut out entire sections of what suspects said in custody. They also put pressure on them to implicate other youths from the area. Lawyers for some of those involved have described it as a “legal scandal” and formal complaints have now been made to prosecutors about the conduct of the detectives. Pascale Pascariello reports.