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Wife of French bus driver left brain dead after gang beat him up says ‘I will avenge my husband’

The wife of a French bus driver who was left brain dead after a gang of passengers beat him up for insisting they wear face masks said she ‘will avenge my husband’ as she joined 6,000 protesters demanding justice.

Philippe Monguillot’s wife Veronique and the couple’s three daughters joined thousands of people in Bayonne in the south of France on Wednesday evening as they wore white and marched through the streets.

Mr Monguillot, 58, was savagely beaten after he tried to enforce coronavirus rules on the bus in Bayonne on Sunday, in an attack which has caused outrage in France. 

On Wednesday’s March, Mrs Monguillot held a photo of herself with the stricken driver above her head, while her daughters held huge bouquets of white flowers.

They were at the head of a group of thousands of supportive Bayonne residents who packed the town’s streets. 

Veronique Monguillot, the wife of French bus driver Philippe Monguillot, 58, who was left brain dead after a gang of passengers beat him up for insisting they wear face masks said she ‘will avenge my husband’ as she joined 6,000 protesters in the streets of Bayonne, in the south of France, demanding justice on Wednesday

Mrs Monguillot and her and Mr Monguillot's three daughters joined thousands of people as they wore white and marched through the streets. Mrs Monguillot held a photo of herself with the stricken driver

Mrs Monguillot and her and Mr Monguillot’s three daughters joined thousands of people as they wore white and marched through the streets. Mrs Monguillot held a photo of herself with the stricken driver

Mrs Monguillot said: ‘I will fight to the end, I have strength in me, I have almost no more tears. I’m angry and I’m going to go. I am not afraid, justice is with me. The justice will help me to avenge my husband.’

In other French cities, including Paris, Strasbourg and Bordeaux, bus drivers observed a minute’s silence at 7.30pm. Some of his colleagues are refusing to go back to work until after Mr Monguillot’s funeral. 

The march came a day after two men, aged 22 and 23, were charged with attempted murder over the attack on Mr Monguillot.

Prosecutors, who also arrested two others on lesser charges, said the men ‘violently kicked and punched the upper part of his body, including his head’. 

Mr Monguillot’s 18-year-old daughter Marie told Sud Ouest that ‘it’s not my father breathing, it’s the ventilator… we know that it’s over.’  

Describing the events of Sunday night, prosecutor Marc Mariee told a press conference that three men had initially boarded the bus near Bayonne’s train station, one of them with a dog.

Mr Monguillot, 58, was savagely beaten after he tried to enforce coronavirus rules on the bus in Bayonne on Sunday, in an attack which has caused outrage in France. Pictured: Mrs Monguillot is comforted by a woman on the march

Mr Monguillot, 58, was savagely beaten after he tried to enforce coronavirus rules on the bus in Bayonne on Sunday, in an attack which has caused outrage in France. Pictured: Mrs Monguillot is comforted by a woman on the march

Mrs Monguillot said: 'I will fight to the end, I have strength in me, I have almost no more tears. I'm angry and I'm going to go. I am not afraid, justice is with me. The justice will help me to avenge my husband'

Mrs Monguillot said: ‘I will fight to the end, I have strength in me, I have almost no more tears. I’m angry and I’m going to go. I am not afraid, justice is with me. The justice will help me to avenge my husband’

The family stood with a photograph of Mr Monguillot as they faced members of the media and supportive residents

The family stood with a photograph of Mr Monguillot as they faced members of the media and supportive residents

At a subsequent stop they were joined by a fourth person, at which point the driver went to inspect his ticket – and told the four men to put their masks on.    

‘There were insults and then shoving. The bus driver was pushed out of the bus,’ the prosecutor said. 

Two of the men are then alleged to have punched and kicked the driver in what the prosecutor called an ‘extremely violent’ attack.

Some of the men made a run for it after leaving the victim critically wounded on the pavement, the prosecutor’s office said.  

One person was arrested at the scene while another four were detained at an apartment in Bayonne, although one of them, a minor, was later released. 

In addition to the two attempted murder charges, two others have been charged with failing to assist to a person in danger while one of them is also accused of attempting to hide a suspect. 

The mother and her daughters were distraught as they mingled among the thousands of people

The mother and her daughters were distraught as they mingled among the thousands of people

Some held pieces of paper with the letter P above their heads as a show of support to the driver

Some held pieces of paper with the letter P above their heads as a show of support to the driver

The streets were thronged with people wearing white in tribute to the stricken bus driver

The streets were thronged with people wearing white in tribute to the stricken bus driver

The two attempted murder suspects have police records to their names. All four people are in custody.   

Mr Monguillot was unconscious when emergency services arrived and his wife said their lives had been ‘destroyed in a couple of seconds’ by the attack.   

Mrs Monguillot said: ‘He can’t leave us like this, he was going to be 59-years-old soon. No, you don’t do this over a bus ticket. You don’t kill for free like this!’

Speaking to Le Parisien, she added: ‘I don’t want to face the facts… I feel like I’m living a nightmare.’ 

The Monguillots are the parents of three daughters aged 18, 21 and 24, and they are being supported by friends and colleagues who have set up a support group.

‘Philippe was going to retire in a year and we thought we were going to buy a motorhome in September,’ Mrs Monguillot said. 

His daughter Marie, 18, added: ‘We are empty… we have no more tears.’  

Mrs Monguillot said on Wednesday: 'He can't leave us like this, he was going to be 59-years-old soon. No, you don't do this over a bus ticket. You don't kill for free like this!'

Mrs Monguillot said on Wednesday: ‘He can’t leave us like this, he was going to be 59-years-old soon. No, you don’t do this over a bus ticket. You don’t kill for free like this!’

The Monguillots are the parents of three daughters aged 18, 21 and 24, and they are being supported by friends and colleagues who have set up a support group

The Monguillots are the parents of three daughters aged 18, 21 and 24, and they are being supported by friends and colleagues who have set up a support group

The two men accused of attempted murder 'violently kicked and punched the upper part of his body, including his head', say prosecutors after the attack in Bayonne (shown on a map)

The two men accused of attempted murder ‘violently kicked and punched the upper part of his body, including his head’, say prosecutors after the attack in Bayonne (shown on a map) 

Masks are currently compulsory on all public transport in France, but members of the group refused to put them on when they got on the vehicle – a cross between a bus and a tram run by the Chronoplus company – at about 7pm on Sunday. 

The assault on the father of three prompted an outpouring of indignation by his colleagues in Bayonne.

A colleague of Mr Monguillot described him as a ‘decent and hardworking man who always looked after passengers.’

He added: ‘There has been a lot of tension over masks, because they are the law, but bus staff are not police, and we should not have to enforce the law.’

The Chronoplus colleague said there had been three other assaults related to masks in recent days, but none as serious as the one involving Mr Monguillot.

Claude Olive, the Mayor of Bayonne, said meetings were in progress to try and improve security on buses.

‘This was a barbaric attack,’ said Mr Olive. ‘Philippe was a wonderful person who should have been protected.’ 

The march came a day after two men, aged 22 and 23, were charged with attempted murder over the attack on Mr Monguillot

The march came a day after two men, aged 22 and 23, were charged with attempted murder over the attack on Mr Monguillot

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