Roma boy left unconscious after being savagely beaten and tortured during vigilante attack in Paris suburb

President Hollande condemns 'unspeakable' treatment of suspected thief that highlights racial tension in poor areas of the city

paris

President François Hollande has expressed outrage after a vigilante gang savagely beat and tortured a teenage Roma immigrant in a northern suburb of Paris.

The 16-year old was left for dead in a supermarket trolley with multiple skull fractures after being kidnapped from a Roma camp by a gang of around 20 youths from a nearby, multi-racial council estate who believed he was a burglar.

It is believed that the Roma teenager, named only as Darius, was arrested for burglary several times in the last two weeks at Pierrefitte, in Seine-Saint-Denis, just north of Paris.

President Hollande condemned “unspeakable and unjustifiable actions which strike against all the principles on which our Republic is founded”. The interior minister, Bernard Cazeneuve, said that only the police and the justice system had the right to investigate and punish crimes.

“Everything possible will be done to bring the culprits to justice,” he said.

The incident occurred last Friday but provoked government comments only today. The slow reaction may be explained by the complex racial implications of the attack.

Relations between Roma immigrants and the majority white population in France are poor. Relations between Roma and people of North African and African origin in suburban housing estates are often worse.

Many of the estimated 20,000 Roma in France live in makeshift encampments on the edges of cities, close to council estates which have severe social and economic problems of their own. “It is an explosive situation which most well-off French people don’t know anything about,” one senior social worker said. “There is much talk of white or right-wing opposition to the presence of the Roma. The tensions between Roma camps and the multi-racial housing estates are often far worse.”

Eye-witnesses said that on Friday evening a group of around 20 masked youths, wearing knuckle-dusters and carrying clubs, invaded the Roma camp where Darius lived with his family. Roma who tried to intervene were attacked. Darius was dragged away. He was found hours later by passers-by unconscious in a supermarket trolley near the Cite des Poètes, a troubled housing estate. He had several skull fractures and had been bruises and abrasions all over his body.

He was taken to the Delafontaine hospital in Saint Denis and placed in artificial coma. His life was still said to be in danger.

Police told the newspaper Le Parisien that his kidnappers had called his family from his mobile telephone and demanded a €15,000 (£12,000) ransom. His parents assumed that he had been killed, police sources said. It was two days before they discovered that he was seriously ill in hospital.

The fact that the gang had entered the Roma camp looking for an individual has persuaded investigators that this was probably a vigilante attack or intended as a brutal warning.“At this stage, it is too early to make a direct link between burglaries on the estate and this attack,” police said. “Investigations are continuing.”

The Roma camp where Darius and his family lived, on the edge of the A1 motorway from Paris to the north, was dismantled by its inhabitants over the weekend.

Louis Aliot, the vice president of the far-right Front National – and romantic partner of the party’s president, Marine Le Pen – was among politicians who condemned the attack. He went on, however, to say that it was not surprising that “citizens defend themselves”  when they have the impression that the state “fails to protect them”.

Around 20,000 Roma migrants, mostly from Romania and Bulgaria, are believed to live in France. The present Socialist government has continued the policy, started under President Nicolas Sarkozy, of dismantling camps and deporting migrants if they have no job.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Voices
voices
News
general electionThis quiz matches undecided voters with the best party for them
Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen starred in the big screen adaptation of Austen's novel in 2005
tvStar says studios are forcing actors to get buff for period roles
News
Prince William and his wife Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge show their newly-born daughter, their second child, to the media outside the Lindo Wing at St Mary's Hospital in central London, on 2 May 2015.
news
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey/ South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey / South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Recruitment Consultant / Account Manager - Surrey / SW London

£40000 per annum + realistic targets: Ashdown Group: A thriving recruitment co...

Ashdown Group: Part-time Payroll Officer - Yorkshire - Professional Services

£25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful professional services firm is lo...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before