November 8, 2005
France: Fast-track Trials for Alleged Rioters Raise Concerns about Accuracy
From NYTimes.com: "Human rights groups fear that fast-track trials...[held in France this week to bring justice to alleged rioters could]...fuel a sense of injustice among the defendants, most of them French-born children of Arab and black African immigrants who already feel shunned by a country that promised them ''liberty, equality, fraternity.''
Bands of teenage boys in sweat shirts, hoods pulled low over their eyes, shuffled through metal detectors to sit in on the hearings of friends or relatives arrested in the riots that have rocked the suburbs of Paris for nearly two weeks and have spread across France.
Armed policemen in bulletproof jackets, tear gas and cuffs at the ready, warily patrolled the courtrooms and waiting hall of the fortress-like red-brick building where the unusual crowds have created an atmosphere of electric tension."
Most of the boys claim they're victims of being at the wrong place at the wrong time. At least 1500 people have been arrested since the riots began; French magistrates are deciding about 60 riot related cases a day using fast-track procedures to deal with the mounting number of cases. [Mark Godsey]
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