French leader condemns vigilante attack

Last updated 22:53 17/06/2014

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A vigilante attack against a Roma teenager is causing alarm at France’s highest levels, after a group of people who suspected the boy of burglary seized him from his camp, beat him into unconsciousness and left him for dead. 

French President Francois Hollande called the attack ‘‘unspeakable and unjustifiable.’’ In a statement Tuesday, he said ‘‘all efforts should be made to find the perpetrators of this attack.’’ 

Luc Poignant, a police union official, told LCI television in an interview aired Tuesday that about a dozen people went into the Roma camp late Friday in the suburb of Pierrefitte-sur-Seine north of Paris after an apartment was burgled.. Police found the victim abandoned by a road. 

Poignant said the young man was put into a medically induced coma ‘‘because he was in so much pain.’’ 

Anti-racism groups say violence in France is rising against Roma migrants, also known as Gypsies, who come primarily from Eastern Europe and are often blamed for petty crime.  

Many live in makeshift camps on the sides of highways or in vacant lots, lacking running water or electricity. Without regular documentation of their residence, they have a hard time enrolling children into school, applying for subsidised housing, getting health care through the national system or finding permanent work. 

Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve, in charge of French police, condemned the attackers. ‘‘It is exclusively up to security forces to ensure that public order is respected,’’ he said in a statement.

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- AP

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