Employees arrested in connection with Air France uproar | News | DW | 12.10.2015
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Employees arrested in connection with Air France uproar

Police have arrested six men allegedly involved in the riot that ended with one Air France executive shirtless. Images of the incident had gone viral, embarrassing French officials.

Six men were arrested in connection with the violent demonstration at Air France headquarters that made headlines last week after one executive was forced to flee with his shirt torn to shreds.

The prosecutor's office said five men were detained early Monday, with a sixth arrested later that day. At least ten complaints have been filed against the protestors, including from security guards and executives who were present at the scene.

One union official said the arrested men were treated as "if they were members of a notorious gang or drug or gun smugglers," the AFP news agency reported.

Violence and intimidation

The incident ocurred during a board meeting to discuss major cost-cutting measures within the company, which is struggling financially. As executives were discussing the plan - which involved the elimination of at least 2,900 jobs - hundreds of protesters barged into the meeting, forcing the executives to flee.

The subsequent uproar caused by images of executive Xavier Broseta being helped over a fence, his shirt torn completely off by the marauding protestors, led to sharp criticism directed at the demonstrators.

"We are fighting every day for an Air France that will have lasting growth," Broseta himself said after the incident. "Violence and intimidation will have no part of that."

'These events are not France'

French government officials quickly responded to the protests, claiming the images were an embarrassment to the country.

Both President Francois Hollande and Prime Minister Manuel Valls defended the company, 17.58 percent of which is owned by the government. "The government, the state, supports Air France, which has been tackling major challenges," Valls said during a visit to the headquarters.

Transport Minister Alain Vidalies also expressed his concern. "I think the best French response would be to respond to those abroad who see a caricature, that these events are not France, and that we can get back on track by talking," he said.

blc/bk (AP, AFP, dpa)

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