An English deputy demands Darmanin "a total and complete apology"

An English deputy demands Darmanin “a total and complete apology”

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Like the hearings of the Paris prefect of police Didier Lallement, of a contingent from the French Football Federation but also of the mayor of Liverpool, whose pronouncement is eagerly awaited, the scandal after the Stade de France incidents crossed the English Channel to light up the whole UK.

On Sunday, in front of the British Parliament, Ian Byrne, Labor MP for West Derby, in Liverpool, a constituency that borders Anfield, criticized the management of the file by the French authorities and denounced “the lies” of the Home Secretary. Gerard Darmann. Before attending Steve Rotheram’s hearing before the French Senate from his constituency, he agreed to answer questions from 20 minutes.

How did you react when you heard the words of the Minister of the Interior, Gérald Darmanin, last Wednesday, during his hearing before the Senate Committee on Law and Culture?

I was very disappointed to see that Mr. Darmanin continued in the same line of defense, that he repeated more or less the same lies even though he did not have the slightest proof of what he said… The saddest thing in my opinion is daring to hide his own mistakes charging them to the Liverpool fans who, with their behavior, prevented the worst from happening.

What do you expect from the Minister of the Interior?

Full and complete apologies for their slander and lies, despite the evidence that has since been provided by the work of journalists and the numerous testimonies of supporters present at the scene. I think that would be a good start. Next, we would like to see an independent, truly independent investigation opened into the way things happened, the handling of the crowd by the public authorities, the police charges, the use of tear gas against children, the families and, in general, everything that happened. near the access gates to the Stade de France, people crushed against the barriers, etc.

And what do you expect from the authorities and the French government in general?

We need to know the truth about the responsibilities of the various parties, to understand how we got there, so that it never, ever happens again. And if you don’t do that, you’re not doing your job right, right? What happened that night cannot be, should not be politically exploited by the Minister of the Interior and the Minister of Sports. And I believe that the President of the Republic should be personally involved in this file. I do not hide from you that I am afraid just at the idea that the Olympic Games can be organized in this way. When he organizes these kinds of international events, he wants to show the best of his country. But for that you must first know how to admit your mistakes, look at yourself in a mirror, conduct research and learn from them.

You were there, as you were in 1989 during the Hillsborough tragedy. How did you feel all night?

I’ve never seen anything like this in my life, I’ve never seen children being gassed like that, I’ve never seen police fire tear gas into panicked crowds. They treated us like animals… That’s not how you can pretend to maintain order and security in a football stadium. Here too, the methods of the French police must radically change. Those responsible must sit down and face their own mistakes to learn from all this, because it is unthinkable to see this again one day near a football stadium, more so with a crowd so large and showing no rancor. We had already seen those images of the French police during the demonstrations and I never thought that I would see this with my own eyes during a football match…

He explained to the British parliament that tonight could have been more dramatic than in Hillsborough, facing the police, had it not been for the Liverpool supporters.

Yes, I’ve said it and I’ll say it again, if it hadn’t been for the Reds fans, if they hadn’t shown such composure, because of their experience and their collective memory after Hillsborough, I’m convinced that things could have taken a turn. for worse, that there would have been more deaths [97 à Hillsborough]. They did everything not to panic in the midst of such chaos, mousetraps, traps created by the police, in the face of the suspicious behavior of the commissars, the total absence of information, totally crazy queues, not to mention the tear gas, pepper spray. Everything that could have gone wrong, went wrong…. It could have become the biggest sporting disaster ever seen in Europe and only thanks to the Liverpool fans could it have been avoided. So they understand the sadness, the disgust, the anger they may have felt hearing French politicians claim that they were primarily responsible for this chaos, all to cover up their own incompetence in crowd management.

You who have been able to speak to the fans since your return to Liverpool, can you tell us what state of mind they are in today?

Many people are still traumatized and probably will be for years. Many of them tell us that they will never go to a football match away from home again. For example, my father was with me in Paris, he is 70 years old, he was caught in a crowd movement during one of the many bottlenecks created by the police, he was pushed, crushed. He today suffers from severe post-traumatic stress disorder, like so many other survivors, and he himself told me that he would never go to watch football games away from home again. .

Liverpool Mayor Steve Rotheram will speak before the Senate on Thursday. What do you expect from this testimony?

He will deliver his feelings, his experience on the spot, he also had a horrible experience and will not hesitate to tell the senators about it. I don’t think he hesitates to highlight the lies of his ministers, the prefect and all those who lied to cover up. He will be the perfect spokesperson for the Liverpool fans because he was also present at Hillsborough and has a wealth of experience in everything related to the Liverpool club and their fans.

In a recent public speech, Steve Rotheram sent a strong message to the French authorities saying: “You have chosen the wrong fans, the wrong city, the wrong club.” [à qui vous en prendre] » .

Yes, and you are absolutely right. It is nothing to say that the inhabitants of Liverpool have quite a lot of experience in this area. They fought for decades to expose the lies of the British police and authorities in the Hillsborough drama, and despite the lies and attempts at destabilization, they finally won justice. Liverpool and their supporters probably have more experience in this area than any other club in the world and we will not stop until the truth is known, justice is done and an apology is made.

Do you have a message for our ministers in charge of the archive?

The ball is in their court and we will see if they decide to persist in lying and dishonoring. My message to Mr. Darmanin and Ms. Oudéa-Castera: Do the work you are paid to do, the work your citizens elected you to do, do whatever it takes to make sure what happened that night does not happen again. .

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