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


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.

Arts and Entertainment
Banksy's 'The Girl with the Pierced Eardrum' in Bristol
art'Girl with the Pierced Eardrum' followed hoax reports artist had been arrested and unveiled
Life and Style

Board creates magnetic field to achieve lift

Stephanie first after her public appearance as a woman at Rad Fest 2014

Arts and Entertainment
James Blunt's debut album Back to Bedlam shot him to fame in 2004

Singer says the track was 'force-fed down people's throats'

ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage

Endangered species spotted in a creek in the Qinling mountains

peopleJust weeks after he created dress for Alamuddin-Clooney wedding
Life and Style
A street vendor in Mexico City sells Dorilocos, which are topped with carrot, jimaca, cucumber, peanuts, pork rinds, spices and hot sauce
food + drink

Trend which requires crisps, a fork and a strong stomach is sweeping Mexico's streets

Arts and Entertainment
George Lucas poses with a group of Star Wars-inspired Disney characters at Disney's Hollywood Studios in 2010

George Lucas criticises the major Hollywood film studios

football West Brom vs Man Utd match report: Blind grabs point, but away form a problem for Van Gaal
Arts and Entertainment
Leonardo DiCaprio talks during the press conference for the film

Film follows park rangers in the Congo

Arts and Entertainment
Gotham is coming to UK shores this autumn
tvGotham, episode 2, review
Adel Taraabt in action for QPR against West Ham earlier this month
footballQPR boss says midfielder is 'not fit to play football'
First woman: Valentina Tereshkova
peopleNASA guinea pig Kate Greene thinks it might fly
Chris Grayling, Justice Secretary: 'There are pressures which we are facing but there is not a crisis'

Does Chris Grayling realise what a vague concept he is dealing with?

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Systems and Network Administrator

Negotiable: Randstad Education Leicester: We are recruiting for a Systems and ...

English Teacher

£120 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Group: English as an Additional Langua...

Nursery assistants required in Cambridgeshire

£10000 - £15000 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Nursery assistants re...

History Teacher

£60 - £65 per day: Randstad Education Liverpool: Job opportunities for Seconda...

Day In a Page

Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Let's talk about loss

We need to talk about loss

Secrecy and silence surround stillbirth
Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Women may be better suited to space travel than men are
Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album