France Nantes: Policeman charged over shooting that sparked riots

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Media captionThere have been three nights of unrest in Nantes

A French police officer has been charged with manslaughter in connection with a fatal shooting in Nantes that triggered three nights of rioting.

The officer initially said he had opened fire on the 22-year-old man in self-defence during a traffic stop in the Breil neighbourhood on Tuesday.

But his lawyer told AFP news agency that after questioning, the officer said he had fired by accident.

The incident led to violent clashes between groups of youths and police.

The trouble began on Tuesday after the man, named locally as Aboubakar Fofana, was stopped by police in his car. Police initially said he had refused to comply with orders and tried to reverse into an officer. Another officer then opened fire, hitting the man in the neck.

Officials said the man had been under surveillance for suspected drug-trafficking.

That night rioters burned cars and threw petrol bombs at the police who responded with tear gas. The violence continued on Wednesday and Thursday with buildings including a library, a shopping centre and schools set alight.

On Thursday the officer was taken into custody for questioning and on Friday his lawyer, Laurent-Franck Lienard, told AFP he had offered a different version of events.

“He recognises he made a statement that did not conform with the truth,” Mr Lienard told AFP.

Later, Mr Lienard confirmed that his client had been charged. The officer, who has not been named, was granted conditional release.

Around 1,000 people marched through Nantes on Thursday calling for “justice for Abou” and demanding a full inquiry.

Prime Minister Edouard Philippe visited Nantes the same day. He condemned the rioting and promised “the fullest transparency” about the man’s death.

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