A courtroom in a courthouse (illustration). - Camille Allain / 20 Minutes

“A mechanical Orange  in uniform. Two police officers were sentenced on Tuesday to appeal to prison terms for the illegal and violent arrest of an Afghan refugee in Marseille. One was sentenced to three years in prison, two years of which was firm and the other to 18 months in prison, one of which was firm. The third member of this motorway CRS crew, a young woman, security assistant, was given a six-month suspended prison sentence before the Aix-en-Provence Court of Appeal.

All three had been brought to trial in early May in Marseille; the first two had been sentenced to four years firm and 18 months firm respectively. Incarcerated after the pronouncement of the sentence, they appeared detained Tuesday before the Court of Appeal of Aix-en-Provence. The two police officers, who were banned from practicing in the police for one, and for three years for the other, were however not detained.

"I was afraid of losing my life there"

CCTV cameras had filmed the muscular arrest of Jamshed, a 27-year-old Afghan, holder of a residence permit, on April 12 on the Old Port of Marseille. Following this, the young refugee had been abandoned 30 km further in a vacant lot where he claims to have been hit. "I was afraid of losing my life there," Jamshed said on Tuesday with the help of an interpreter, accusing one of the police officers of having beaten him "like a boxer."

In a harsh indictment against the police, Advocate General Thierry Villardo denounced an "arbitrary arrest" for the purpose of "private justice", even referring to a "  mechanical Orange  in uniform". "In this case, how can citizens trust the police? ", He launched, before requesting penalties almost equivalent to the first instance sentences pronounced for kidnapping and forcible confinement, forgery and willful violence against the two most implicated police officers, never convicted before.

Invective and wasteland

On the day of the incident, the police, who operated under containment control, intervened after passers-by assured that the young Afghan had spit on them when they refused to give him a cigarette. It had been thrown against the police vehicle after an arm key, then placed inside. According to the security assistant who carried out the handcuffing, the skipper, Brigadier Michel Provenzano, 46, the most heavily convicted on Tuesday, "got angry from there". In question ? Fingers of honor and invective launched by Jamshed.

The young refugee was then transported to an isolated site in Châteauneuf-les-Martigues, about thirty kilometers from Marseille. "We took him without knowing where," said Michel Provenzano before the court: "All the way, I am absent from myself". On the spot, the brigadier, who evokes a "tunnel effect", deposits in his pocket his sunglasses and his service weapon: "I have an idea to fight," he explained Tuesday.

"I was out of nails"

Behind a hillock, the brigadier, "at the end", says that he "un handcuffs, grabs by the collar and shakes" the young Afghan who would then have received at least "a slap", according to the driver, Mathieu Coelho, who heard "cries from both sides". "I am not known to be a madman on the field", but that day "I made a big mistake, I was out of the nails," conceded Michel Provenzano, dark shirt and closed face. In the process, the police wrote a false report, indicating that they left the young refugee at the police station.

"A firm year for someone who got caught up in a case he could not stop, it remains a very heavy penalty," said AFP Me Liénard, lawyer for driver Mathieu Coelho. "This is a serious warning against certain police officers who have to stop these practices from another time," he added. For Me Christophe Bass, lawyer of the chef de bord Michel Provenzano, this penalty is "fair" because "it does not sum up the life of a man at an hour of his life, it is a fair return to reality", in his oral argument the decision at first instance of "repressive puff".


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  • Police
  • Aix en Provence
  • Marseille
  • Justice