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French police officers charged for roles in pre-riot electrocution deaths

[JURIST] A French judge has charged two police officers connected to a case that sparked three weeks of rioting [JURIST news archive] outside Paris and in other parts of France in 2005. The officers were charged Wednesday with “non-assistance to people in danger”, and face up to 5 years in prison and up to a $97,400 fine for their roles in the electrocutions of two immigrant teenagers in a suburban Paris power substation. As determined by an internal investigation [JURIST report] in December, the police officers chased the teenagers into the substation before they were killed, a claim the officers and the Interior Ministry initially denied. The report concluded that officers should have notified French energy company EDF [corporate website, in French] as soon as the youths entered the power station, and by not doing so, the officers exhibited a "lack of thought."

The deaths of the teens exposed deep-seated tensions in France’s poor suburbs, where neighborhoods of immigrants feel alienated from French society, and scores of Muslim and black youths commonly clash with police. As the riots spread to poor immigrant neighborhoods around the country, the French government authorized emergency powers [JURIST report] for local governments struggling to control the violence. The state of emergency was only lifted [JURIST report] in January 2006. AP has more. Le Figaro has additional coverage, in French.

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