Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 12 November 2019

Two French police officers to stand trial over 'yellow vest' violence

More than 2,000 protesters have been injured in protests over the last year

A protester holding a flare gestures in front of the Eiffel Tower during a demonstration in Paris, as the "Yellow Vests" (Gilets Jaunes) protesters take to the streets. (Photo by Zakaria ABDELKAFI / AFP)
A protester holding a flare gestures in front of the Eiffel Tower during a demonstration in Paris, as the "Yellow Vests" (Gilets Jaunes) protesters take to the streets. (Photo by Zakaria ABDELKAFI / AFP)

Two French police officers will stand trial for alleged violence against "yellow vest" demonstrators taking part in anti-government rallies which erupted a year ago, the Paris prosecutor's office said Thursday.

Participants in the protest movement have long accused authorities of using heavy-handed tactics that have left dozens of people seriously injured.

Protesters have criticised the use of large rubber bullets called "defensive ball launchers".

Yellow vest activists say dozens of people have sustained injuries, including 23 protesters who have lost the use of an eye and five have lost a hand.

The two officers were charged over incidents at this year's May Day protest in Paris, a traditional day of labour union rallies that was joined by yellow vest activists.

One officer will stand trial for allegedly slapping a protester in the face, while the other is accused of throwing a paving stone at demonstrators in Paris - both scenes were captured on video.

Eighteen other cases have been handed to an investigating magistrate to decide whether there was enough evidence to press charges, Paris prosecutor Remy Heitz said in a statement.

In May, the interior ministry said 2,448 demonstrators had been hurt in the protests, along with 1,797 members of the security forces.

On Thursday, Mr Heitz said 146 yellow vest-related investigations had been finalised by the IGPN police oversight body out of 212 Paris-based cases.

Fifty-four investigations were closed without charges being pressed, and another 72 are being considered by the prosecution service, he added.

Updated: November 7, 2019 09:38 PM

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