“I dispute the facts,” said the accused on Tuesday, on the first day of his trial before the Marne Assize Court.
To a question from the president asking him if he was sticking to his position “mentioned in the procedure”, he replied with a simple “yes”, in a calm voice, without expanding further.
Aged 50, he had come to recognize during the investigation that the injury of the victim, Maxime Beux, had been caused by his baton during scuffles with the police in the city center after the match.
But he added that he had acted “in execution of an order”, being that day responsible for patrolling the city center to “arrest people disturbing public order”.
According to the investigation, the supporter allegedly kicked the policeman’s car. The latter, then a member of the BAC (anti-crime brigade) in Reims, would then have caught up with him and sent a blow with a telescopic baton.
Judged for having “voluntarily committed violence” with the use or threat of a weapon followed by “mutilation or permanent disability”, the accused, now a police officer in a district police station in Reims, faces 15 years of criminal imprisonment.
– Not “necessarily” guilty –
“It is not because he struck a truncheon that he is necessarily guilty of the crime for which he is accused”, wanted to qualify his lawyer, Me Nicolas Brazy, questioned by AFP on the sidelines of the hearing.
Above all, he expects “a legal debate” before the Assize Court on “the use of weapons” by the police. One can “commit acts without being guilty”, he says.
Frowning, arms crossed in the dock, the accused listened on Tuesday, impassive, to the testimony of the head of the IGPN investigation into his case.
On one of the videos used, broadcast to the audience, we see him “get out of the vehicle” of the BAC and “make a gesture” corresponding “to the exit of a telescopic stick”, comments the investigator.
Then, he sets off “in pursuit of two individuals” in the center of Reims. One of the prosecuted “marks a halt” and “brings a hand to the level of his head”, which could correspond to the victim, he reports. “Between the moment the policeman gets out of the vehicle and the moment the victim holds his head, it takes between 12 and 14 seconds.”
The president asks him the number of police and supporters on the spot. “Sixteen supporters” and “several crews” of police, answers the investigator. “That’s 22 police officers,” said the president.
To explain the victim’s injury, the IGPN investigation excludes a fall on a pole after a truncheon to the shoulder, the first version given by the police officer, as well as a shot from an LDB (ball launcher of defense Editor’s note). The preferred hypothesis is “a blow of a telescopic stick in the eye”.
“Under what circumstances can a police officer use a weapon?” Asks the president to the IGPN investigator. “In case of self-defense” and “with a strict notion of proportionality”, he replies.
“Do you consider that a person who hits a police vehicle represents a form of dangerousness?” Asks the Advocate General. “No,” he snaps.
The victim, Maxime Beux, 28, told the press before the hearing that he felt “very badly, very distressed”. It is “a test of having to immerse myself again and relive this moment”, he continued, in a white shirt, behind slightly tinted glasses.
“What I lost that evening, I will not find it”, he added, saying however “satisfied” that the affair “came to the assizes”. He expects a “criminal conviction of whoever is responsible”.