A truck driver who deliberately knocks down and then beats up a cyclist who beckoned him to pull over on a small country road: the trial of this violent assault, filmed, is being held Thursday at the Saintes criminal court (Charente-Maritime).
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The facts that took place last January can be judged because the cyclist had activated the camera he was wearing on his jacket, images then posted on the Internet where they went viral.
"It's a rarity to be able to prosecute the perpetrator of such acts for willful violence"
, welcomes AFP Michel Benezra, the lawyer for the association Mon vélo est une vie, which was seized of the case by the victim.
“Today, he adds, in 80% of cases, when a cyclist is hit, it is voluntary.
But it's very hard to prove unless the scene is filmed
The images show a narrow road in Charente-Maritime, between Royan and Sémussac.
When they start, the cyclist has already passed the dump truck to which he has signaled to drive more slowly and to get closer to his side of the road.
In vain, he will say, since he is forced to roll on the grassy side.
The cyclist resumes his journey, but soon hears an engine behind him.
Worried, he plugs in his camera.
Footage shows the dump truck overtaking him and squeezing him to the point of dropping him, then stopping.
The driver and his passenger, who is his minor son, get out of the truck, shout at the cyclist and start beating him, breaking the camera.
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This short film allowed the public prosecutor of Saintes to prosecute the driver for willful violence with a weapon by destination, in this case a dump truck, which resulted in a temporary interruption of work for more than eight days (30 days in total) .
For Téodoro Bartuccio, president of “My bike is a life”, this kind of news item
It doesn't stop.
(…) People use their vehicle to take justice into their own hands”
He intends to use this case to change the law and mentalities, by pleading for tougher penalties against drivers.
In a press release, his association called
on “the lovers of the little queen to come and support the victim, by attending the judgment in cycling attire”
The driver faces three years in prison and a fine of 45,000 euros.
He was appearing alone, his son, less involved, having been the subject of an alternative measure to prosecution before the prosecutor's delegate.
"The truck driver must be sentenced to an exemplary sentence but also, a message must be sent in favor of sharing open spaces and respect for the lives of cyclists"
, insists the association.
The cyclist, according to his lawyer, now lives in fear because his alleged attackers
"live next door and regularly pass by his house"
"Especially since the driver is known to the courts and has a criminal record
," says the defender.