French minister says won't resign over death of protester

Reuters , Wednesday 29 Oct 2014

Bernard Cazeneuve, the French interior minister Sept. 17, 2014 (Photo: Reuters)

French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve, a close political ally of President Francois Hollande, dismissed on Wednesday calls for his resignation after the death of a young ecology protester during clashes with police.

Remi Fraisse, 21, was killed during a violent stand-off over the weekend between police and ecology protesters seeking to prevent construction of a dam in the Testet wetlands area of southern France. Supporters, including local farmers, say the project will help with irrigation of the zone.

Presenting initial findings on the death, a state prosecutor said on Tuesday he was probably the victim of an offensive grenade, an explosion-filled device sometimes used by police to disperse crowds in serious riot situations.

"I have absolutely no intention of quitting when I am doing my duty to the state and the republic," Cazeneuve told Europe 1 radio, adding that investigators had a "moral duty" to find out what happened and that any police abuse would be sanctioned.

Leaders of France's Greens Party, one-time government partners of Hollande's ruling Socialists, have criticised the government for not condemning more forcefully Fraisse's death. Cazeneuve announced on Tuesday that the use of offensive grenades would be suspended pending the investigation results.

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