Trial of the Théo affair: the three police officers decided on their fate on Friday

Almost seven years after the events, the Théo affair, which has become emblematic of police violence, is reaching its epilogue

Trial of the Théo affair: the three police officers decided on their fate on Friday

Almost seven years after the events, the Théo affair, which has become emblematic of police violence, is reaching its epilogue. The Seine-Saint-Denis Assize Court must deliver its verdict on Friday January 19 in the trial of three peace guards tried for the 2017 arrest of Théodore Luhaka, seriously injured in the anus by a baton blow.

The court retired around 10 a.m. to deliberate. Shortly before, the accused spoke one last time. The verdict is expected late this afternoon.

“I stand by my statements, I have nothing to add,” declared the main accused, Marc-Antoine Castelain, 34. The latter is being prosecuted for intentional violence resulting in “permanent mutilation or infirmity” on the victim, with the aggravating circumstances of his status as a person holding public authority, with a weapon and in a meeting. The official risks up to fifteen years in prison.

“I regret the consequences (…), I think I carried out my work in compliance with the laws,” said Tony Hochart, prosecuted for intentional violence with his colleague Jérémie Dulin. On Thursday, a three-year suspended prison sentence was requested against Mr. Castelain, the author of the baton blow that injured Mr. Lukaha. For MM. Dulin, 42, and Hochart, 31, the attorney general requested six and three months of suspended prison sentence respectively.

Irreversible aftereffects

The magistrate justified his requisitions by the “absence of criminal record” of the three accused and the long duration of the case, which changed with the video of the arrest. The public prosecutor also requested a five-year ban on public practice for Mr. Castelain and two years for Mr. Dulin. Their lawyers pleaded for acquittal, ruling that their clients were in self-defense.

The three police officers are accused of having committed several brutal acts on the victim, 22 years old at the time, during an identity check that went wrong, on February 2, 2017 in Aulnay-sous-Bois (Seine-Saint- Denis). The scene was captured by the city's video surveillance cameras.

It is because Théodore Luhaka has irreversible after-effects of his arrest that the police have been in front of a criminal court for two weeks. A rare occurrence in cases of police violence. Almost seven years after this affair with national repercussions, the debate on the maintenance of order and the use of force by the police has continued to resurface thanks to news items.

On the administrative level, possible disciplinary sanctions will be pronounced "at the end of the legal proceedings", the Paris Police Prefecture announced before the trial.