Pierrefitte-sur-Seine outside Paris, shows a part of a squalid camp where the Roma teenager used to live. Photo: AFP
Paris: The photos will stun France.
A 16-year-old Roma boy, beaten nearly to death and thrown in a supermarket trolley.
The teenage boy now lay in a coma in a hospital here on Tuesday after being abducted from a shantytown and brutally assaulted last week, apparently in retaliation for what his assailants thought were thefts he committed in a nearby housing project, the French authorities said.
London's Telegraph has published gruesome photos of the boy passed on, it reports, by the man who found him.
The UK Telegraph obtained photos of the boy as he was found in the trolley and published them. Politicians and rights groups condemned the attack, which police and judicial officials said involved as many as a dozen people. No racial motives were immediately apparent, and investigators have made no arrests.
President Francois Hollande, whose leftist government has sharply accelerated the destruction of Roma camps, called the abduction and beating "beyond words and unjustifiable." Hollande did not call the attack a hate crime, however.
The boy, identified by law enforcement officials only as Darius, a 16-year-old Romanian citizen, was found abandoned in a shopping cart at the edge of a highway late Friday in Pierrefitte-sur-Seine, a poor, heavily immigrant suburb north of Paris.
Darius was found with major damage to his skull, the authorities said, and he was placed in a medically induced coma in a Paris hospital, where he remained Tuesday night.
His assailants are believed to have come from the Cité des Poètes, a housing project where Darius was reported to have recently made a burglary attempt. He lived in a makeshift camp in an adjacent lot with about 200 other Roma, or Gypsy, foreign nationals, the authorities said.
By Monday, the camp had been abandoned, according to reports in the French news media.
About 17,000 Roma are thought to live in France, according to government numbers, most of them in squalid, illegal encampments at the edges of the country's major cities. Complaints of noise and crime tend to trail the camps, and as the French economy has faltered and a bitter populist anger has grown in recent years, the Roma have become a central feature of political debate, especially on the right and the far right.
In elections for the European Parliament last month, France's xenophobic National Front made significant gains, having run partly on the issue of immigration. The party's website calls "uncontrolled immigration a source of tensions in a republic that can no longer assimilate new citizens." A few days after the election, French riot officers cleared hundreds of migrants from a camp in Calais.
The authorities have resorted to razing the camps, drawing condemnation from human rights groups, which call the approach cruel and ineffectual. The Roma, most of them from Romania and Bulgaria, tend to simply rebuild nearby. Their citizenship effectively entitles them to remain in France under European law. Many survive by collecting and selling scrap metal.
Violence toward Roma has been on the rise in France and across Europe, rights organisations say, though statistics are scarce.
"There have been stories of violence before, but much less spectacular," said Aline Le Bail-Kremer, a spokeswoman for SOS Racisme, an anti-racist group.
Darius was described in French news reports as a petty criminal with a history of theft. A judicial spokesman said Darius had no criminal record, but the mayor of Pierrefitte-sur-Seine, Michel Fourcade, told reporters the young man had been questioned by the police on several occasions about a string of robberies at the Cité des Poètes. Sylvie Moisson, the state prosecutor for the district, told reporters that Darius was known to the police and to the court system, but she declined to provide more detail.
A judicial spokesman said the attack was precipitated by at least one burglary or attempted burglary at the Cité des Poètes on Friday. News reports suggested the attackers might have been young gang members involved in drug sales at the housing project, though Moisson said there was little drug traffic there.
Nonetheless, the attack appeared to have been motivated by revenge, she said.
Shortly after the attackers entered the camp and abducted Darius, his family received several calls from his telephone; the assailants demanded a ransom of €15,000 (more than $US20,000) the family told the police, according to Moisson.
The attackers had threatened to burn down the encampment if the police were called, the family said.
New York Times