Thanks to a reader's intervention, I read a letter from the Institut pour la Justice, an association for victims' rights that works to prevent crime, support the police, and monitor court decisions. The letter is addressed to the police and others who support the Institut.
Last Sunday (April 22) Amine Bentounsi (above), a 29-year-old multiple recidivist and resident of the city of Meaux in Seine-Saint-Denis was killed by what seems to have been a bullet that ricocheted and hit him in the back.
The policeman who shot Amine Bentounsi while he was trying to escape has been indicted for voluntary manslaughter, and suspended from his duties. He risks losing half his salary.
The Institut pour la Justice offers a portrait of Bentounsi, originally published in Le Parisien on April 27:
At the age of thirteen, Amine Bentounsi was the youngest prisoner of France, after committing multiple thefts with violence. His life has been a succession of prison terms. In September 1994, our paper ran the headline "The terror of the neighborhood is only twelve". He had, by then, already burglarized the OPAC headquarters, stolen cars, attacked two employees of a social center, beaten a female neighbor with a car jack in order to steal her tape recorder. (…)
Note: OPAC is a national subsidized housing agency.
"He was uncontrollable," recalled a counselor. (…) "Once he stole a colleague's scooter and went berserk when we went to get it back." A neighborhood teacher recalled that Amine had been sent back to Algeria, to his grandmother, to calm his temper: "He came back after burning down his house. His parents were never able to set him on the right path."
When he was nineteen Amine climbed up the façade of the Bleuet building in Collinet with a rope, to break into the OPAC headquarters. (…) Criminal court banned him for ten years from Meaux and gave him four months in prison. A few months later, in October 2001, he participated in a spectacular hold-up of the Collinet post office, that ended with a shoot-out against the police, as passers-by watched (…)
In August 2005 he and two accomplices held up the Champion store in Saint-Pauthus, and took employees as hostages. He would receive his most severe sentence: ten years in solitary confinement, handed down in 2007.
It was this ultra-dangerous individual who found himself face to face with the police, a loaded revolver in his hand.
Note: No one thought to condemn the judge who let him out before the ten years were up.
Amine Bentounsi apparently hid between two cars before pointing a 35- caliber revolver in the direction of the policeman, who said he used his weapon four times in a situation of legitimate defense. The victim's weapon was recovered fully loaded.
And yet, a judge decided to indict him for voluntary manslaughter.
Early reports indicate that the bullet ricocheted, and that is why the criminal was shot in the back. The policeman would never had shot him in the back, according to his lawyer.
The rest of the letter from the Institut pour la Justice is devoted to a brief history of crime and punishment in France over the past three or four years. Then politics and the election enter the picture, and we have a clear indication that the Institut prefers Nicolas Sarkozy. François Hollande has promised to repeal two laws passed in 2007 and 2008, when Rachida Dati was Minister of Justice:
- The law establishing a minimum sentence for multi-recidivists.
- The law allowing for an extended sentence, after the criminal has served his appointed time. This law is to protect society from extremely dangerous criminals, who are still a threat, even though their prison time has expired.
(Note: When these laws were passed they were something of a joke, because they had a minimal effect and did not address the needs of a crime-ridden country and its dysfunctional justice system.)
The Institut informs us however, that these two innocuous laws are regarded as "ignominious" by the union of magistrates, a union that is very small but powerful, and of course pro-Hollande.
In addition to Hollande's promise to repeal two laws, we also learn that Nicolas Sarkozy has committed himself to two measures deemed by the magistrates' union as "populist":
- the construction of 24,000 new spaces in the prisons
- the possibility for victims to appeal verdicts (a right reserved today only for the convicted and the prosecution).
The letter concludes with a plea to vote on May 6 in full consciousness of the situation. And adds:
That judges prosecute policemen in court whenever they use their firearm, even in self-defense, is not "only" a scandalous injustice to them, it is also a grave threat to you: it encourages other police to close their eyes, or to arrive too late, when they are called to intervene in a crime. This is not paranoia. On October 14, a young policewoman was killed by a lunatic with a sword in Bourges. At the time, her colleagues did not know how to react. They did not dare take out their guns.
You can read the whole letter here.
Both candidates are playing it safe. Nicolas Sarkozy has said:
"A presumption of legitimate self-defense…"
"No salary reduction, so long as he has not been judged…"
Below, the French police demonstrate in support of their colleague.
Labels: Crime, Criminal Responsibility, Election 2012, Police