“There are too many weapons in circulation”, warns the public prosecutor, Rémy Heitz

Rémy Heitz announces a strengthening of the criminal policy on bladed weapons – Caroline Politi / 20 Minutes

  • The Paris public prosecutor asked that minors arrested with a weapon be almost systematically referred.
  • These directives aim to fight against brawls and violence between gangs.
  • Since 2016, eleven young people have been killed during a fight in Paris. The majority were not 18 years old.

What was the life of Yuriy, this 15-year-old schoolboy found, almost three months ago, unconscious on the slab of Beaugrenelle in the 15th arrondissement of Paris, after being beaten by teenagers from a gang rival? Certainly to a rapid and appropriate medical care, but also, perhaps, to the fact that that evening, his attackers were certainly equipped with sticks, crutches and hammer, but did not have bladed weapons. “The presence of a knife can very quickly turn a fight into something much more serious, sometimes with a dramatic outcome”, insists on 20 minutes, the Paris public prosecutor, Rémy Heitz, recalling that since 2016, eleven young people have been killed in the capital during these brawls, the majority of whom were not 18 years old.

To fight against this phenomenon, the magistrate passed, on March 29, directives aimed at strengthening the fight against the carrying of weapons. Instructions were thus given to the prosecution that all people arrested with a knife, whether or not they were at the scene of a brawl, be almost systematically referred. In 2019, they were only 37% of minors and 46% of adults to be. No more simple seizure of the weapon, sometimes accompanied by a reminder of the law. Depending on the profiles and the context, the latter may be issued a ban on appearing in certain neighborhoods for up to six months, a citizenship course or even be tried in immediate appearance in the most serious cases.

“We can quite easily prevent a passage to the act”

“There are too many weapons in circulation”, insists the magistrate who hopes to play on the preventive aspect of such a measure and thus continue the basic work started a few years ago with the police headquarters, the town hall, the National education, social landlords, etc. to fight against gang phenomena. “It doesn’t take much for a fight to become extremely serious. But the reverse is also true, one can quite easily prevent a passage to the act ”, he continues, recalling that the majority of the young people implied in brawls are unknown police services, well integrated, sometimes good students.

If since the beginning of the year a dozen clashes have been recorded in Paris, this violence nevertheless seems to be on the decline: 83 facts were counted last year against 159 in 2016. A drop that the magistrate puts above all on a more detailed knowledge of the phenomenon which makes it possible to defuse certain conflicts upstream. The fact remains that when they take place, the acting out is always very violent. And if it is not with a knife, it is with everything that falls within the hand of the participants: baseball bats, stones, screwdrivers… are frequently used in these confrontations. “There is a distortion between the profiles of these young people, the futility of the motives and the seriousness of the consequences”, insists Rémy Heitz.

And on this point, prevention is more difficult to implement since, reminds Rémy Heitz, “the weapon by destination becomes a weapon by the use made of it”. The Yuriy case bears witness to this: eleven young people, almost all minors, were notably indicted for “attempted murder”.



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