Police in the southern French city of Marseille have remanded four teenagers in custody over an arson attack on a bus which left one woman seriously injured. The suspects, all minors aged between 15 and 17, deny causing the blaze which gutted the vehicle last Saturday on the anniversary of last year’s nationwide riots in poverty stricken areas. A fifth youth, aged 14, was released without charge.
Marseille’s public prosecutor, Jacques Baume, believes they egged each other on. “There was a sort of collective excitement in the afternoon,” he says. “They decided they were going to take action against a bus the very same night, to copy events in Paris.”
A defence lawyer for one of the suspects agrees a destructive group mentality took over last Saturday, but he believes the youths in custody were not the only people responsible or the main perpetrators of the attack. Meanwhile, the 26-year-old woman who suffered burns to 70 percent of her body remains in a critical condition in hospital.
There has also been a show of support for the youths in custody, with protestors calling on authorities to halt their campaign of arrests.