French policemen in tear gas canister case will not face disciplinary council

·2-min read

The two police officiers under investigation for their involvement in the death of an 80 year-old woman in Marseille, will not face a disciplinary hearing despite recommendations to do so. Zineb Redouane was hit in the face by a tear-gas canister in 2018 and later died in hospital. In 2020, the victim's family filed a legal complaint against the former interior minister and other senior officials.

The managing director of the National Police (DGPN),Frédéric Veaux says the two riot police will not face a disciplinary hearing, as was originally recommended following an administrative inquiry carried out by the Inspection Générale de la Police Nationale (IGPN), a police monitoring body.

In a report issued on 20 May, the IGPN stated that the action carried out by the riot police officer (CRS) was legal, and not been deliberately aimed at the victim. However, it said that the action lacked "discernment".

Redouane, an Algerian national, was standing at the window of her fourth-floor apartment in central Marseille when the canister struck her in the face. Relatives said she was trying to shut her shutters amid the chaos of clashes between police and “Yellow Vest” anti-government protesters in her street.

She later died in hospital.

Red alert

A counter-investigation in December argued that “the presence of several buildings directly in front of the shooting officer should, at the very least, have constituted a red alert.”

It noted that the Cougar-type launcher used in the incident has a range of approximately 100 metres and that the projectile struck Redouane “after 37 metres”, while it was still ascending, "collapsing” the right part of her face and causing her to inhale large quantities of tear gas.

The DGPN justified its decision to avoid a disciplinary hearing by pointing to elements which had already been reported by the IPGN in July -- including "fatigue" felt by the officers at the time, "a lack of visibility", and ambient "tension" due to the protests.

The police officer who oversaw the shooting of the canister at the time has also been dispensed from any further disciplinary action.

The pair will instead attend a refresher course on "the rules in place for the use of defensive techniques".

Concealing evidence

In December 2020, Redouane's relatives filed a legal complaint against former interior minister Christophe Castaner and other senior officials, accusing them of “concealing and interfering with evidence”.

In the months following the fatal incident, Castaner, who now heads the ruling LREM party in France's lower house of parliament, repeatedly claimed that Redouane’s death by cardiac arrest had no link with the police grenade.

Magistrates in Lyon, who are now in charge of the investigation, are yet to rule on the findings of the official ballistic report.

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