France - Police

PM Castex proposes tougher punishment for those who attack police

French Prime Minister Jean Castex  in Paris, France, April 28, 2021.
French Prime Minister Jean Castex in Paris, France, April 28, 2021. REUTERS - GONZALO FUENTES

At a Tuesday afternoon national homage to Eric Masson, the police officer shot dead in the southern French city of Avignon last week, Prime Minister Jean Castex said the ceremony was intended to allow the dead man's two young daughters say "my father was a good man, an exemplary police officer, who acted so that we could live in safety".

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UPDATE 15h09 UT: The prime minister was joined at today's solemn ceremony by Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin, and by Justice Minister Eric Dupond-Moretti. Friends and family of the 36-year-old father of two girls joined local political figures and trade union representatives outside the regional police headquarters.

Eric Masson was shot twice on 5 May, during a routine operation involving drug-dealing.

Police colleagues of the dead officer, and hundreds of Avignon residents, held a separate ceremony in his memory on Sunday.

In his Avignon address, the prime minister also referred to another security official, Stéphanie Monfermé, murdered last month in the police station in the Paris suburb of Rambouillet.

"These were two people serving the state, dead while working, while carrying out their mission," Castex said.

Four arrests - two suspects to be charged

Earlier on Tuesday, the French prime minister promised his support for the police and has propose harsher penalties for those who attack members of the security forces.

Four people have been arrested in the on-going investigation.

Two suspects are to be brought before a judge and charged in connection with the policeman's murder.

Masson's death followed the latest in a series of attacks targeting members of the French security forces. The repeated incidents have angered police unions and become a political issue ahead of regional elections in June and France's presidential election next year.

Police and local residents protested on Sunday in Avignon, demanding tougher security policies. Police representative unions plan nationwide demonstrations next week.

Prime minister promises 'full support' for police

"To better protect those who protect us, this evening I've made concrete commitments to the representatives of our police officers," Castex tweeted on Monday.

Castex met on Monday with police union leaders in an effort to calm tensions. He promised his “full support” to security officers.

He said the government will propose new legislation strengthening punishment for those who target police or resist arrest. The prime minister has also promised to speed up the legal process for those involved in anti-police attacks, to ensure faster prosecution.

Castex also promised €10million to finance the reinforcement of security at police stations. This, after a police administrative official was killed inside a police station in the Paris suburb of Rambouillet last month in what authorities say was an Islamic extremist attack.

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