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Trial of French anti-fascist's alleged killers opens after delay

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Samuel Dufour arrives at the Paris courthouse AFP

The trial of former skinheads accused of killing French anti-fascist Clément Méric in 2013 opened on Tuesday. But it started late because one of the defendants was stopped by police on his way to court.


There was consternation in court on Tuesday morning when one of the accused, Samuel Dufour, failed to appear.

Judge Xavière Siméoni suspended the hearing at 1.45pm.

But Dufour turned up later, explaining that police had stopped him as he approached the courthouse on a scooter to check whether he was wanted for traffic violations.

They released him after confirming that he was due to appear in court and the trial resumed at 2.00pm.

Was knuckle-duster used?

Dufour and Esteban Morillo, who are both 25, face manslaughter charges in relation to Méric's death during a street confrontation in central Paris.

They face up to 20 years in jail if found guilty.

A third man, 29-year-old Alexandre Eyraud, faces up to five years for aggravated violence.

Much of the case is expected to centre on whether a knuckle-duster was used, which would be an aggravating factor if proved.

Morillo has admitted hitting Méric but denied using one, although some witnesses say they saw him with one.

Dufour sent a text to a friend on the evening of the fight, saying "I hit [him] with your knuckle-duster," but now says he was only wearing rings.

Far-right groups banned

The fight came after Méric, an 18-year-old student who had recently recovered from leukemia, and other anti-fascists clashed verbally with the skinheads at a clothing sale, where the right-wingers were looking at T-shirts bearing slogans such as "White power" and "100% pure race".

In its aftermath the Socialist government of the time banned several small far-right groups.

Méric's father Paul-Henri, who attended the trial with his mother, Agnès, said the skinheads belonged to a "neo-Nazi-inspired political movement" and declared that the trial "will also be that of the violence of the extreme right".

The defence has pleaded for politics to be set aside.