Blinded protester: France targeted by procedure by the European Court of Human Rights

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) opened proceedings this Monday against France for “acts of torture” or “inhuman and degrading treatment” after the injury of a blind trade unionist in 2016 during a demonstration against the labor law. “After seven years of legal battle, the Laurent Théron affair takes an unprecedented turn with the opening, by the ECHR, of a procedure against the French State”, underlined in a press release his lawyers, Mes Céline Moreau, Olivier Peter and Lucie Simon.

“The opening of this procedure by the ECHR could have significant repercussions at a time when numerous investigations are underway concerning demonstrators injured after Laurent Théron, particularly during the Yellow Vest movement,” continue the three lawyers. “It raises vital questions about the responsibility of the French state in protecting the rights of demonstrators, particularly in the face of excessive use of force illustrating a true militarization of policing. »

Grenade explosion

Laurent Théron had lost the use of his right eye on September 15, 2016hit in the face by the explosion of a hand grenade fired by a CRS during a demonstration against the labor law.

The chief brigadier who fired the shot was referred to the Paris ize Court. “The order (for referral) specified that Mr. (the brigadier) and his company were not attacked or surrounded or even really attacked during the facts in dispute and that he had committed the act in question outside the framework legal and regulatory”, recalls the ECHR. He was nevertheless acquitted on December 14, 2022 “on the grounds that he had carried out an act required by the necessity of self-defense”.

The prosecution, which had nevertheless requested two or three years of suspended prison sentence, “refuses to appeal against this questionable acquittal, reinforcing the increasingly shared feeling in France of real police impunity”, continue Laurent Théron’s lawyers. . The latter thus referred the matter to the ECHR, invoking Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which prohibits torture and inhuman and degrading treatment.

The court, based in Strasbourg, communicated two questions to the French government: was the applicant “a victim of treatment contrary to Article 3 of the Convention”? And “did the investigation carried out in this case by the domestic authorities satisfy the requirements of Article 3 of the Convention”? The procedure is expected to take several more months.

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