Several people have been arrested in connection with a Wednesday assault by skinheads that left Clément Méric, an 18-year-old left-wing activist, brain dead in what police described as a “politically motivated incident” on the streets of Paris.
Several people have been arrested in connection with a Wednesday assault by skinheads that left a young left-wing activist brain dead, Interior Minister Manuel Valls told AFP. Police described the incident as being “politically motivated”.
Clément Méric, an 18-year-old anti-fascism campaigner, was attending a clothes sale with friends in the 9th district of central Paris when three “skinhead-type” individuals, including one woman, arrived on the scene.
Witnesses told police that “angry words were exchanged” before the aggressors left “to fetch reinforcements”.
When Méric left the building he was assaulted by the group, including one person wearing brass knuckles, and hit his head on the pavement as he fell. He was declared brain dead in hospital later that night.
Police said they were treating the attack as a “politically motivated incident involving the far right versus the far left”.
The Left Party (Parti de Gauche), a grouping of French far-left parties, issued a statement accusing the Paris-based far-right organisation JNR (Young Revolutionary Nationalists) of carrying out the attack. The JNR has been active in Paris since the late 1980s and has been known for violent attacks in the past.
“The horrors of fascism have brought murder to Paris,” the statement said.
Other left-wing groups, including the Young Socialists and SOS Racisme, called for the JNR to be banned as an organisation if a link between the group and the attack is proved.
Serge Ayoub, the 48-year-old founder and head of the JNR, told reporters on Thursday that any link between the attack and his organisation was “completely false”. He added that the fight was probably started by left-wing activists.
Marine Le Pen, who heads the far-right anti-Europe and anti-immigration National Front (FN) party, said Thursday that her party had “no links at all” with the “appalling” attack.
“The FN is not linked in any way whatsoever to this unacceptable and intolerable act,” she told RTL radio.
French President François Hollande’s office issued a statement condemning the attack, saying police had been given “firm instructions to ensure that the perpetrators of this odious act are arrested as soon as possible”.