France: Rioting after man dies in police custody

France: Rioting after man dies in police custody

Youths in the southeastern French town of Firminy burned cars and destroyed a social centre on Wednesday night as protests over the death in police custody of a young man continued for a second night.

Around 200 riot police were deployed into the early hours on Thursday, with a helicopter circling overhead as groups of young people set fire to rubbish bins before moving on to torch cars and the social centre.

The protests followed the death on Wednesday of Mohamed Benmouna, a local man arrested for attempted extortion, who fell into a coma after what police said was a suicide attempt and died several hours later.

Benmouna's family have expressed scepticism over the explanation by police who said he had used cords from a mattress to hang himself.


According to the state prosecutor in Saint-Etienne, an examination of the body revealed no traces of violence.  The mother of the 21- year old man does not believe in the suicide theory.  The Benmouna family lodged a complaint and asked people to continue to remain calm.

Sources: Reuters (English), Europe1 (French)

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