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French rappers in court over airport punch-up

Rap rivals Booba (L) and Kaaris
Rap rivals Booba (L) and Kaaris Dominique FAGET / AFP
3 min

Two French rappers were to appear in court on Friday over a fight that erupted at Paris's Orly airport on Wednesday, causing flight delays and damage in a duty-free shop.


Booba (real name Elie Yaffa) and Kaaris (real name Okou Gnakouri) were fast-tracked along with nine of their companions to appear in court at Créteil, near Paris, on Friday, having spent the past two days in preventive detention.

A 12th person who had been detained was released without charge.

The fight broke out in the duty-free area as the two arrived to take a flight to Barcelona, where they were both due to appear in separate night-clubs close to each other that evening.

Videos of the pair insulting and the assaulting each other, with their companions joining in amid the sound of breaking glass, have gone viral on social media.

Airport, duty-free shop sue over losses

Booba and Kaaris fight at Orly airport

The Paris airports authority has made a legal complaint for breach of the peace, claiming that it harmed their company's image and threatened part of its income, and also for endangering lives, since the punch-up is alleged to have prevented an abandoned piece of luggage from being isolated.

Air France has also filed a complaint, claiming that delays to flights cost in 8,500 euros, as has the company that runs the duty-free shop, which is claiming to have lost 54,000 euros in damaged goods.

One of Kaaris's lawyers, Arash Derambash, claimed that Booba abused his client, insulting his wife and child, and that Booba's entourage then attacked him.

Booba's lawyer, Yann Le Bras, dismissed the claim as rubbish on TV.

Interior Minister Gérard Collomb on Thursday said he was glad the participants had been detained and invited to rappers to abstain from disrupting the journeys of the millions of passengers who fly to and from Orly.

Hardcore rivalry

The pair have become rivals, challenging each other in recordings and on social media, although Booba, who is 41, initially helped 38-year-old Kaaris's career to take off by inviting him to perform with him on some of his albums.

Both practice "hardcore" rap, inspired by US performers, that flaunts its cynicism, violence and misogyny, reflecting the lives of drug-dealers and glorifying the pursuit of wealth at any price.

Gangster-style rivalries, verbal clashes and threats are part of the image the performers cultivate.

Booba has already been in trouble with the law for assaulting a taxi driver in 1997 and for his part in a fight in a night-club in 2002 and there were press reports of another night-club clash in Switzerland in 2016.

He has also conducted a feud with other rappers, notably Rohff (Housni Mkouboi) and La Fouine (Laouni Mouhid).

Rohff was sentenced to five years in jail for his involvement in a 2014 attack on a shop selling Booba's clothing brand, in which a salesperson was seriously injured.

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