France has been shocked by a video which appears to show three policemen harassing and humiliating a man with no legs and one arm.
More than 100,000 have watched the short film posted on Facebook, which shows the man being abandoned by the police officers after being made to remove his artificial legs and strip to his underpants.
As the policemen walk away, a passer-by who filmed the scene on his smartphone is heard shouting: “Officer, officer, we need you. Officer, turn back please. This is humiliation, It is not normal.”
The man who made the video, Jean-Didier Bakekolo, told French media: “I found myself witnessing a police search of exceptional brutality. The officers forced this man to undress and left him struggling to put back his artificial legs…He was ill-treated to the point of being forced to sit on the ground partially undressed.”
The incident, which happened on the underground platforms at the Gare de Lyon in Paris on Monday night, comes at a time when relations between police and public in France are already strained.
Police have been accused of acting with unnecessary violence to control a fringe of aggressive demonstrators during left-wing protests against plans to reform French employment law. Police unions have retorted that the violence comes mostly from the protesters and that several officers have been seriously hurt.
One police union, Alliance, has called for a demonstration by police on 18 May to protests against what they see as a “campaign of anti-police hatred” on the left of French politics.
The Paris police headquarters said that nothing in the video suggested that the amputee had been subject to harassment or violence. “If he makes a complaint, it will be investigated thoroughly,” a spokesman said.
The website of the French international news channel France 24 traced the victim of the alleged harassment at the Gare de L’Est. He was identified as François Bayga, an African migrant who has made a formal request for the right to live in France.
Mr Bayga said that three policemen had approached him and pushed him up against a wall while he was travelling from the Gare de Lyon to the Gare du Nord.
“They demanded my papers and I took off my back pack and showed them,” he said. “I gave them my telephone, my medical card and my membership card at my wheelchair rugby club…”
“They accused me of stealing my phone. I started to get angry. I didn’t know what they wanted. I was pushed up against wall and one of the policemen pulled at my leg. I explained it was artificial…They insisted on searching me. I felt completely humiliated.”
Mr Bayga was finally helped to replaced his artificial legs and his trousers by a passer-by and a woman ticket inspector.
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