Sharp criticism of France’s police chief for defending police officers in custody

France is arguing about how to deal with a police officer who is said to have used violence during the recent riots in Marseille. In the course of investigations, the man was taken into custody, which caused displeasure among his colleagues. “Knowing him in prison robs me of sleep,” police chief Frédéric Veaux told Le Parisien newspaper (Monday’s edition).

“In general, I think that a police officer should not be jailed before a possible trial, even if he may have committed misdemeanors or serious errors in the course of his work.” The exceptions are cases of probity or honesty. The statement drew sharp criticism from the left.

Democracy and respect for the rule of law are at stake

Socialist leader Olivier Faure wrote on Twitter that the police hierarchy is above the judiciary. “What is at stake here is democracy and respect for the rule of law.” The judiciary union Syndicat de la Magistrature was also outraged. Veaux questioned the principle of equality before the law and attacked judicial authority.

While French media reported that Chief of Police Veaux enjoyed the confidence of Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin, French President Emmanuel Macron made it clear in an interview: “Nobody in the Republic is above the law.” He did not go into detail about the statements made by the police chief.

Jean Harris

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