Widow condemns ‘barbaric’ death of bus driver beaten over face masks

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The wife of a French bus driver savagely beaten after he asked four passengers to wear face masks aboard his vehicle has called for “exemplary punishment” after he died of his injuries.

The assault on Philippe Monguillot has caused uproar in France, with President Emmanuel Macron dispatching interior minister Gerald Darmanin to meet the driver’s widow after his death was announced on Friday.

Veronique Monguillot said she and their three daughters were “destroyed” by the July 5 attack at a bus stop in Bayonne, south-west France.

She told Mr Darmanin: “We must bang a fist on the table, so this never happens again.

“It’s barbaric, not normal. We must stop this massacre.”

A march for the bus driver
The case has sparked uproar across France (AP)

The Bayonne prosecutor said Mr Monguillot was assaulted after he asked four passengers on the number 810 bus to wear face masks, which are required aboard French public transport because of the coronavirus pandemic.

He was insulted, pushed off the bus and violently beaten and kicked in the head, the prosecutor said.

Four people are in custody.

Mr Darmanin said: “This bus driver was only doing his job.

“He left his home in the morning and did not come back, leaving a widow and three orphan girls. It is an absolutely odious act.”

France has had more than 208,000 confirmed infections and around 30,000 virus-related deaths, according to a tally from Johns Hopkins University.

Experts say the true toll is higher, due to testing limitations and missed mild cases.