European court investigates France over protester losing eye

AFP - [email protected]
European court investigates France over protester losing eye

Europe's top rights court is investigating France for alleged "torture" and "inhumane and degrading treatment" over a French union activist's loss of an eye at a protest, his lawyers and the court said on Monday.


Laurent Theron, then aged 46, lost the use of his right eye after being struck by a rubber-ball grenade shot by police during a demonstration against labour reforms on September 15th, 2016.

His lawyers argued the policeman who fired it was not under any threat at the time, but a French court acquitted him last year for having acted in "legitimate defence".

"After a seven-year legal battle, the Theron case has taken an unprecedented turn with the European Court for Human Rights launching legal proceedings against the French state," his lawyers Celine Moreau, Olivier Peter and Lucie Simon said in a statement.


Their petition to the ECHR invoked article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which prohibits "torture" and "inhumane or degrading treatment or punishment", according to another statement from the court.

Theron's lawyers said the proceedings could have significant repercussions in other cases of injured protesters in France, including during the 2018-2019 "yellow vest" movement against President Emmanuel Macron's policies during his first term.

The case "raises vital questions on the responsibility of the French state in the protection of protesters' rights, especially with regards to excessive use of force", they said.

The "yellow vest" protests left 2,500 demonstrators injured in a year, 23 of whom lost an eye. Around 1,800 officers were also injured.


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