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France

New French police baton rape case sent to assizes court

media French riot police face off with people holding a banner reading, "Cops rapists murderers" on a protest last week Reuters/Christian Hartmann

A court near Paris has ruled that a second police officer could face trial for rape for allegedly introducing his baton into the anus of a young man he was arresting in 2015. The case is receiving renewed attention today in the light of protests over the alleged baton rape of Théo Luhaka.

The court in Bobigny, north of Paris, ruled that the 33-year-old municipal police officer should be sent to an assizes court where he could face a charge of rape, rather than the previous one of "aggravated violence" before a lower court.

The trial in January attracted little media attention but Monday's hearing appeard to have been affected by the storm set off by the alleged rape of Luhaka earlier this month.

"This is a just and important decision, which we were hoping for," commented the alleged victim's lawyer Marie-Cécile Nathan.

Her client, who is known by his first name, Alexandre, and is now 29, was taken to hospital after being arrested while slightly drunk in Drancy outside Paris on the evening of 29 October 2015.

He accused the police officer of forcing his baton into his anus while they were on their way to the police station.

Doctors found a 1.5-centimetre open wound when they examined him and two medical certificates confirm their was penetration.

Rape charges not pressed at first

During the trial on 16 January the public prosecutor said there had been "undeniable police violence" but turned down lawyers' calls for rape charges to be laid, saying that there was a "sexual connotation" in the gesture but that it did not have a "sexual character".

He called for a six-month suspended sentence for the police officer with a one-year ban on practising his profession.

Since then the Luhaka case, in which a police officer has been charged with rape for an allegedly similar assault in nearby Aulnay-sous-Bois, has led to almost daily demonstrations in the area and elsewhere in France.

The lack of publicity and the failure to press rape charges in the earlier case will add fuel to the arguments of campaigners who claim that police brutality and racial discrimination are widespread in France.

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