16:44, December 22 103 0 theguardian.com

2020-12-22 16:44:04
Two policemen present at Michel Zecler beating are conditionally released

French investigating judges have ordered the release under judicial supervision of two policemen detained last month in connection with the beating of black music producer Michel Zecler, a judicial source said.

Both officers will be barred from having any contact with Zecler or anyone else connected with the case. They will also be banned from carrying firearms and all police work and will have to stay clear of the 17th Paris arrondissement where the assault, caught on video, occurred (on 21 November), the source said.

Four policemen were indicted over the assault, which triggered protests across France.

They are under investigation for intentional violence by a person holding a position of authority.

The two had requested conditional release, granted on caution of €5,000, after appearing before magistrates Friday and Monday.

The pair’s lawyers did not comment when contacted by AFP.

Zecler’s lawyer, Caroline Toby, said she was “astonished that these releases come even before a confrontation between the victim and the police officers while they continue to contest certain facts despite the evidence”.

Three of the four detained officers – including a 31-year-old brigadier – are suspected of beating Zecler while a fourth is accused of throwing a tear gas grenade into Zecler’s studio during the assault.

The Paris prosecutor has called for three of the quartet to also be charged with racial abuse.

The attack, caught on camera, has become a rallying cause for those who accuse the police of institutionalised racism and brutality.

French celebrities, sporting stars and politicians have all lined up to condemn the attack. Footballers including the French internationals Kylian Mbappé and Antoine Griezmann also expressed their anger.

French president Emmanuel Macron described the video as “shameful” and “unacceptable” and said: “Those whose job it is to apply the law should respect the law.”

The incident has also ramped up pressure on the government to scrap or revise a bill that would restrict the filming of police – thousands demonstrated against the proposals at the weekend, some rallies turning violent and leaving dozens injured.