A young left-wing activist has died after an attack by skinheads left him brain dead on Wednesday night. Clément Méric fell to the ground after being physically assaulted by a group of skinheads in the 9th district of central Paris.
Several people have been arrested in connection with the incident, which police said was “politically motivated”.
Méric was attending a clothes sale with friends 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.
“A REAL SENSE OF SHOCK, SADNESS AT SCIENCES PO”
By Katerina VITTOZZI reporting from Paris
Several hundred people gathered near the site of the attack on Thursday where they chanted left-wing slogans and friends made speeches paying tribute to Méric.
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”.