Police are blamed for deaths that led to riots

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An internal review by French police of the deaths of two teenagers in an electricity sub-station in 2005 has faulted officers for their handling of the case, a lawyer for the victims' families said yesterday.

Zyed Benna, 17, and Bouna Traore, 15, were electrocuted while hiding in the sub-station in the Paris suburb of Clichy-sous-Bois. A third teenager, Muhittin Altun, was also hiding and survived with severe burns.

The deaths on 27 October 2005, was the event that triggered three weeks of rioting in poor suburbs across France.

Jean-Pierre Mignard, a lawyer for the families, said the report, by an internal police investigation, confirmed officers had indeed been chasing the youths before they were killed - which the Interior Ministry and police had initially denied.

The report found the officers involved in the incident were "surprisingly distracted" and had acted with a "lack of thought", the lawyer said. Excerpts appeared in Le Monde.

The report said officers should immediately have notified the energy company EDF that the three were hiding in the power station. The lawyer also denied claims the teenagers were planning to rob a building site.