By Yusuf Ozcan
PARIS (AA) – French prosecutors launched Wednesday a preliminary probe into alleged police violence after a video showing police tripping a pension reform protestor went viral, according to local media.
General Inspectorate of the National Police (IGPN), France's police watchdog group, will investigate the video, allegedly recorded in Toulouse on Jan. 9, and the police violence during protests, the daily LeMonde reported.
Police violence in France has been a subject of controversy since the Yellow Vest protests which started in Nov. 17, 2018 and continue to be the main focus because of the ongoing pension reform protests since Dec. 5.
On Tuesday, President Emmanuel Macron said some officers show “unacceptable behaviors,” however, it is not right to say that all police officers used violence against protesters.
“I expect the highest ethical principals from our police officials. I have asked the interior minister to make very concrete proposals in this regard,” France24 quoted the president as saying.
In the recent year, a protestor died of police violence, 26 people lost their eyes, and nearly 500 others were injured during the demonstrations.
Anadolu Agency photojournalist Mustafa Yalcin was wounded on Dec. 5, when a projectile fired by police exploded near him, breaking the glass of his helmet and leaving his left eye severely injured.
Yalcin underwent a six-hour operation at Cochin Hospital and faces the risk of permanent loss of eyesight.
On Jan. 11, Dursun Aydemir, another Anadolu Agency photojournalist, was injured in the leg when a gas canister used by the police hit him near the Lyon Train Station.
The pension reform strike started in protest of the government's planned overhaul of the nationwide pension system. President Emmanuel Macron is steadfast in his position that the 42 different plans currently in place need to be consolidated into one.
Pension payouts in the new plan would be calculated from salaries from across a worker's career instead of only last five years. The result, unions say, would be significantly reduced payouts for workers.
Macron's proposed plan would also phase out the early retirement advantages of certain sectors, primarily the civil service, by adjusting various "hardship" criteria.
*Writing and contribution by Busra Nur Bilgic Cakmak in Ankara