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understand the “razzia” to avoid its repetition

On Saturday May 28, the Champions League Cup final at the Stade de France in Saint-Denis turned into chaos. Many spectators and supporters of the Liverpool FC and Real Madrid teams have been victims of attacks and thefts. The blindness of the highest state officials in the face of this wave of delinquency is an additional reason for concern for the French. It is however essential to try to understand what happened to avoid the repetition of such events.

An assessment that remains to be established

The record of the abuses committed at the Stade de France and its surroundings on the evening of May 28 is being consolidated. It can only be established in a few weeks at best, if the Ministry of the Interior communicates on this subject. In the meantime, it is from a bundle of clues and scattered information that it is necessary to assess the number of people assaulted and robbed and of offenders involved in these events.

Hundreds of attackers

During his hearing before the Senate on June 1, the Minister of the Interior reported 81 arrests in the Stade de France sector and more generally 105 arrests in Paris and Seine Saint Denis. Police unionists provided details on the profile of those arrested: a fifties of them would be “undocumented”, in fact illegal immigrants. Among them were unaccompanied minors or pseudo minors. The impossibility of identifying them all would have led to the classification without follow-up of the police custody of many of them and to their release. According to information collected by the current values ​​newspaper from the national police, the first people arrested were overwhelmingly from Maghreb countries.

More generally, the attackers, many of whom were not arrested, were according to police sources “delinquents from other neighboring towns”. Their number is estimated at several hundred, in a range oscillating according to estimates between 300 and 500.

Complaints from victims keep piling up

In addition to the victims of theft and assault, people were injured when entering the stadium, due to flow management problems (counterfeit tickets, etc.). Fans were sprayed with tear gas, pressurized in queues, etc. In total, according to information communicated to AFP, nearly 238 people were taken care of by the various emergency services.

While a hundred people filed a complaint with the police after the match, the short stay in France of foreign supporters did not allow all those attacked to take this step. The Minister of the Interior announced on June 2 that Spaniards and British victims of crime can file a complaint in their country from June 6.

The Liverpool FC football club is currently documenting the request for an investigation that it will send to the French authorities, via an online complaint form. A day after its launch, more than 5,000 forms had already been filled out.

“They attacked without hesitation”

According to several testimonies, young delinquents frequently operated in gangs, sometimes of around thirty individuals. The savagery of the operating methods described by witnesses is striking. Many English and Spanish supporters were threatened, assaulted and then robbed. A police journalist tells the Figaro “They attacked without hesitation women, children, the elderly; victims were completely undressed”. Mon of them indicates concerning the aggressors: “they had knives, machetes, iron bars”.

In addition to assaults to steal the personal belongings of supporters, young women and women have been victims of sexual assault. A witness confides with horror: “I have seen girls under 12 cry because they have been touched by these monsters”. Around the Stade de France, cars were broken into to steal objects. The return by metro of some supporters to line 13 was also marred by assaults and thefts.

The legal consequences

Tuesday, May 31 opened the first trial following the calamitous evening of May 28. 6 individuals were summoned to appear immediately before the Court of Justice of Bobigny for theft to the detriment of supporters. For lack of possibility of hearing, only three of them were tried. Although found guilty as charged, one of the defendants was sentenced to a suspended sentence. An illegal immigrant was given a sentence of “semi-freedom” because he would have work. The Palestinian sentenced to 10 months in prison for having notably assaulted a policeman was for his part seen notified of a prohibition of territory.

Denial, again and again

If the Minister of the Interior admitted errors in the organization of the maintenance of order during the football final, his explanations on the fact that the presence of many supporters without tickets or with falsified tickets would be origin of the disorders are struggling to convince. Certainly, this phenomenon may have contributed to creating crowds at the entrances to the stadium, which were contained in a way that was surprising to say the least by the use of tear gas against peaceful supporters. But this explanation ignores other much more serious facts. The President of the Republic, for his part, in an interview given on June 3 to the newspaper La Dépêche spoke of a “problem of violence” and indicated that there is “a huge project to be carried out on social networks”.

By refusing to point out the responsibility of the young delinquents who assaulted numerous English and Spanish supporters, by refusing to divulge their nationality, both the Minister of the Interior and the President of the Republic cast doubt on their ability to properly gauge the events that have occurred. Isn’t this however a prerequisite to avoid their repetition?

A feedback that remains to be done

If social networks may have helped the offenders to spread the word to organize their raid at the Stade de France, other factors may have been much more decisive:

– the porosity of national borders at a time when illegal immigration is doubling in the Mediterranean Sea, as the Frontex agency recently pointed out;

– the presence in France of young delinquents, frequently from the Maghreb, more and more numerous, whom the public authorities are struggling to send back to their countries, given the protective rights for minors and the refusal of their countries of origin to send them retrieve ;

– the weakness of the penal response to acts of delinquency, which is sometimes perceived by individuals with a culture far removed from that which prevails in France, as an encouragement to recidivism.

It took time for the sexual assaults on New Year’s Eve 2015 in Cologne to become known in all their magnitude, due to the taboo which prohibited naming their perpetrators. 7 years later, during the transition to the year 2022, it was in Milan that this kind of event happened again. On May 28 at the Stade de France, the primary motivation of the attackers during their collective expedition was, according to several sources, theft. But the full assessment of this catastrophic evening is also slow to be known. Emmanuel Macron was very proud to have obtained the organization of the Champions League final for the “radiance” of France. The total fiasco on the sidelines of this competition should lead him to do a 360° critical examination. But does he have the will?

Paul Tormenen

Photo credit: DR
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