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Body found in Loire confirmed as missing techno fan 'Steve'

Graffitti and posters about Steve Caniço, whose body has now been identified.
Graffitti and posters about Steve Caniço, whose body has now been identified. AFP PHOTO/Loic Venance

A body found in the Loire River has been identified as that of Steve Maia Caniço, who had not been seen since a controversial intervention by riot police at a music festival in Nantes, western France, in June.

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The 24-year-old went missing on the night of 21 June after officers moved in to disperse techno music fans at a free concert in the city of Nantes.

More than a dozen concertgoers fell into the nearby Loire River during the ensuing clashes, prompting accusations of excessive force by police trying to shut the party down.

An autopsy carried out on Tuesday morning on the badly decomposed corpse, found near the concert site on Monday, confirmed that it was Caniço, a legal source said.

Prosecutors said that they have opened an investigation into possible manslaughter.

Internal police enquiry already underway

The police had already opened their own internal inquiry into the controversial June intervention, with the results expected this week.

Footage posted on social media showed scenes of chaos as officers carrying batons and firing tear gas moved in on the revellers by the river.

Local authorities said 14 people were pulled from the water after the clashes.

Caniço's friends, who said he did not know how to swim, feared he had been swept away in the confusion.

His disappearance led to fierce criticism over the tactics used by police, already under fire for heavy-handed interventions during weekly Yellow Vest anti-government protests that erupted in November.

Posters asking "Where is Steve?" soon appeared around Nantes, and on 20 July, hundreds of protesters formed a human chain along the Loire to observe a minute's silence for the missing man.

Local authorities have also been criticised for allowing the event to go ahead at a riverside venue without adequate barriers.

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