CHAMPIONS LEAGUE – It was time for explanations. This Thursday, June 9, almost two weeks after the Champions League final between Liverpool and Real Madrid, the prefect of police Didier Lallement was auditioned in the Senate to give elements of understanding on the way in which the evening was managed by the law enforcement.
An exercise in which the senior official engaged in an act of contrition, at least in front. Thus, Didier Lallement began his intervention with the Culture and Law Commissions by recognizing him from the outset: “I am the only decision-maker and the only person responsible for public security in Paris and in the inner suburbs. And what happened that night is clearly a failure.” Before adding to deplore that the situation has “shaken the image of France” internationally.
So much for the introductory remarks, and for the tone of the intervention of the prefect of police who repeated several times “to assume” what happened on the evening of May 28 near the Stade de France.
Tear gas as the only recourse
This is particularly the case on the burning subject of tear gas used against supporters, including families, massed at the entrance to the enclosure waiting to finally be able to enter it. “I fully assume having used tear gas, which is, I repeat, the only means at the police level to push back a crowd, except to charge it”, he declared in particular. “And I think it would have been a big mistake to charge a crowd.”
Indeed, Didier Lallement assures that due to a massive presence of Liverpool supporters with counterfeit tickets, it was far too many crowds who rushed before the final in the police and ticket verification system. “The rejected people either tried to pass at all costs, or backed down and they couldn’t,” he describes. This “made him fear a tragedy by crushing” within this massive crowd, pushing him to raise certain pre-filtering devices, located further from the stadium, to concentrate on the enclosure itself and avoid massive intrusions.
With the direct consequence of the formation of too many people around the stadium, and therefore the use of tear gas to push it back. “I do not deny that there were inappropriate gestures”, he however nuanced, acknowledging that certain officials had been able to make an inappropriate use of tear gas “after having repelled people who had entered” in the stadium grounds.
The figure of 30 to 40,000 counterfeit notes is not a subject, for Didier Lallement
So many elements that made the prefect of police say, like Gérald Darmanin when he too was heard by the Senate, that “the behavior of the police and gendarmes avoided a tragedy”. “We have ensured that no one is seriously injured or dead, and that the match can be held,” he said, assuring that in the event of the cancellation of the football match, the management of an annoyed audience of 70,000 would have been even trickier when it came to public safety.
An argument that we found when discussing the remarkable number of Liverpool supporters who would have presented themselves at the Stade de France, helping to render the security system inoperative. Indeed, if he again declared that he “assumed” to have given the figure of 30 to 40,000 people, hammered since by the country’s political leaders, Didier Lallement quickly sought to create a counter-fire. “We can discuss this figure, it is not essential”, he thus proclaimed, assuring that the influx of a few thousand people on a queue not expecting such a crowd would have already been a risk.
If he assured to be “the only one responsible for this figure”, which he also specified by evoking “34,000 people with counterfeit tickets”, the prefect of police also tried to explain it. Being also responsible for the transport police in Paris and in the inner suburbs, “I had both figures from the operators and observations from the field staff, who evaluated in relation to what they know”, did he declare.
Before returning to his main argument: the figure was not important anyway. “It is a figure which had no scientific value, but which made it possible to draw up an observation: there were many more people than capacity in the stadium.” And to continue: “Maybe I was wrong. But I have never claimed that this figure was a few thousand perfectly correct. It has never been said that the presence of these 30 to 40,000 people were in the immediate vicinity of the stadium, in front of the stadium gates. But neither do we. We smelled them around the stadium.
Counterfeit notes, but no arrests?
All this before trying to put an end to the debate one last time, which has nevertheless caused so much talk and fueled the accusations of “lie” from the French authorities, particularly from England: “Obviously, there were not 30 to 40,000 people in front of stadium gates. It’s obvious, I don’t know where this debate is coming from.
Moreover, incidentally, on the subject of counterfeit banknotes, Didier Lallement took the opportunity to dismantle another figure that has come up a lot in recent days to justify the argument of the owners of counterfeit banknotes as being responsible for the malfunctions: that of “70% of counterfeit tickets” at the pre-clearance points before entering the stadium. “Nobody said that there were 70% fake tickets, there was a control problem on the pre-checks”, assured Didier Lallement this Thursday, specifying that the organizers of the meeting had difficulties with the “pens chemicals” used to check the validity of tickets, which according to him produced “up to 70% of errors”.
Moreover, another point on which the prefect of police “assumed” the decisions taken on Saturday, May 28: the relatively meager results with regard to the arrests of holders of “false banknotes”, in large numbers however according to the communication of the executive, Gérald Darmanin having denounced a “massive, industrial fraud of counterfeit banknotes”. To which Didier Lallement replied on Thursday: “I assume that I did not arrest supporters who had counterfeit tickets. At the time it happened, we couldn’t tell if it was a felony or a misdemeanor.” Clearly, the police would have lacked legal and judicial elements to be able to carry out arrests.
Despite all this, Didier Lallement however refused to comment on the consequences that the fiasco of the Stade de France could have on his future. “I am not sure that my personal situation is the subject, but I will answer you in private if you wish”, he replied to the socialist senator Marie-Pierre de la Gontrie. And even get annoyed, once relaunched on the subject “What does it matter? I am a senior civil servant, I am revocable every Wednesday… What is your problem?” Vibe.
See also on the HuffPost: “We avoided deaths”, Gérald Darmanin congratulates the management of Didier Lallement