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Nevin Al Sukari - Sana'a - French Theo Luhaka, 28, who was allegedly raped with a police baton after an identity check, arrives to attend the first day of the trial of three Seine-Saint-Denis police officers before the Assizes court in Bobigny January 9, 2024. — AFP pic
PARIS, Jan 19 — A French court is to rule today in a rare case of alleged police brutality to receive a criminal hearing after a black man suffered irreversible rectal injuries during an ID check.
Theo Luhaka, then 22, was left disabled after suffering severe anal injuries from a police baton, as well as wounds to his head and face, during a stop-and-search in the Paris suburb of Aulnay-sous-Bois in 2017.
The young black man has since become a symbol of rough policing tactics used against youths in the high-rise housing estates that ring the capital.
Almost seven years after the incident, policemen Marc-Antoine Castelain, 34, Jeremie Dulin, 42, and Tony Hochart, 31, have been standing trial since January 9.
It is a rare case of alleged police brutality to be tried in a criminal court instead of at an internal disciplinary hearing.
Prosecutors have asked for a three-year jail term for Castelain, who yielded the baton and has been accused of voluntary violence that led to a “permanent disability”.
They have requested suspended sentences of six and three months for his two colleagues Dulin and Hochart for taking part in the assault.
“I felt like I was raped,” Luhaka, now 29, told the courtroom on Monday.
He said he once dreamt of being a “great footballer”, but now suffered from incontinence and spent most of his time in his room watching US detective series “Monk” on repeat.
Police oversight body IPGN concluded before the trial that there had been a “disproportionate use of force” in the incident, and that the baton blows were inflicted at a time when “Luhaka was not attacking the physical integrity of the police officers”.
Castelain, the policeman who dealt the blow that ripped the muscle surrounding his anus, said he felt “compassion” for Luhaka, but said his baton blow was “legitimate” as it was “taught at the police academy”.
The other officers kneed and punched as well as aimed pepper spray at Luhaka while he was handcuffed and on the ground.
Dulin on Tuesday admitted one of the blows was undue. He claimed he did not mean to use the pepper spray.
Hochart said he only dealt Lusaka a “light” punch in the stomach “to wind him”.
The police brutality case blew up in the media after security camera footage of the incident was shared online.
Then president Francois Hollande visited Luhaka in hospital.
Activists have repeatedly accused French police of brutality and racism. — AFP
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