French cop jailed for slapping handcuffed UK-bound migrant

A French police officer has been sent to prison for six months for slapping a UK-bound immigrant in the face while he was wearing handcuffs.

The unprecedented sentence was handed down following the violent act in a detention centre in Calais.

Prosecutors in nearby Boulogne-sur-Mer on Friday described how the 44-year-old officer with the PAF Frontier Police, who has not been named, lashed out in August last year.

Migrants waiting to board buses as they leave the migrant detention centre in Calais 

‘The immigrant was not in a position to threaten anyone,’ according to court papers. ‘There was a slap and the police officer was not justified in what he did at all. The victim was sitting down and handcuffed, and being held by another officer.

‘Assuming that this slap was a reflex by the officer, this does not lessen responsibility. As a police officer, you have an obligation to be cool and neutral.’

Neither the officer not his victim has been named, but both were due to appear before an examining magistrate at the detention centre at Coquelles, at the entrance to the Channel Tunnel.

Defence barrister Antoine Deguines said: ‘It was an unfortunate act of protection, he did not want to slap anyone.’

Mr Deguines said the migrant ‘was pretty agitated, and was getting up all the time, so on the spur of the moment’ the officer ‘stretched his arm, and it hit the migrant’s face’.

Smoke rises from a fire over the Jungle migrant camp in Calais during a massive operation to clear the squalid settlement

Smoke rises from a fire over the Jungle migrant camp in Calais during a massive operation to clear the squalid settlement

The officer, who had a previous conviction for physically abusing his wife, was also banned from having a weapon for five years and suspended from performing public office for two years.

A year ago the so-called Jungle refugee camp in Calais was razed, and some 8000 migrants were dispersed to other parts of France.

Some have since returned, and continue to make efforts to reach the coast of England, where they want to claim asylum.

An official report issued last month found that some migrants were being abused by police officers in the Calais area.

This followed complaints by Human Rights Watch that the police were too ready to use pepper spray and other crowd control measures against migrants.

In turn, officers have denied using excessive force, saying they are under intense pressure because of the rapid rise in immigrant numbers.