Over 700 People Sentenced to Prison Following French Riots
More than 700 individuals have been sentenced to prison in relation to the riots that occurred in France late last month, according to the country’s justice minister. The fast-track trials, which have raised concerns among defense lawyers, have resulted in a total of 1,278 verdicts. Over 95% of the defendants have been convicted on various charges, including vandalism, theft, arson, and attacking police officers.
While minor prison terms are typically converted into non-custodial punishments such as wearing electronic bracelets, approximately 600 people have already been jailed, stated Justice Minister Eric Dupond-Moretti. He emphasized the importance of a firm and systematic response to restore national order.
The riots, which marked the most intense urban violence in France since 2005, erupted on June 27 after a police officer shot and killed a 17-year-old French-Algerian boy during a traffic stop near Paris. The unrest was quelled after four nights of serious clashes, thanks to the deployment of around 45,000 security forces, including elite police special forces and armored vehicles.
Dupond-Moretti had called for courts to issue harsh sentences as a deterrent, with some courts remaining open over the weekend to handle the influx of cases. The fast-track system used in immediate appearances has raised concerns about the fairness of the judicial process, particularly considering the heavy sentences imposed on some first-time offenders.
Many of the individuals arrested were minors, with an average age of just 17, and they appeared in separate children’s courts. Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin revealed that approximately 60% of those arrested had no previous criminal record.
In response to the destruction, the government has encouraged police and prosecutors to investigate individuals who used social media platforms like Snapchat to incite or organize the riots. Last week, a 38-year-old man from Lyon was sentenced to one year in prison for public incitement of crime through messages on Snapchat.
Dupond-Moretti emphasized the importance of reminding young people that social media platforms are not hiding places, stating that if they use such platforms to organize criminal activities, they can be found.
President Emmanuel Macron raised the possibility of “cutting off” social media during major civil unrest in the future, but ministers later clarified that this idea is not actively under consideration.
The government has also discussed the introduction of new legislation that would allow the state to fine parents whose children participate in riots. Existing legislation already holds parents accountable for compromising the health, security, morality, and education of their children by failing to fulfill their legal obligations. Dupond-Moretti stated that some parents would be pursued in relation to the riots, but decisions would be made on a case-by-case basis, taking into account individual circumstances.
The riots resulted in approximately 23,000 fires being set, along with damage to 273 buildings belonging to security forces, 168 schools, and 105 mayor’s offices, according to provisional figures from the interior ministry.
In a separate development, prosecutors in the city of Lorient opened an investigation into claims that a group of young men, potentially marine commandos from a nearby military base, assisted the police in detaining rioters.
The number of people sentenced to prison in connection with the recent riots exceeds the figure from the 2005 unrest, during which approximately 400 individuals were incarcerated.