Why mairies' flags may fly at half-mast on Friday

Signes, in the Var

Tribute to one long-time mayor who died after being run over by a van after he stopped its occupants dumping rubble

Flags at many small mairies across France are set to fly at half-mast on Friday as a tribute to a long-time mayor, who was run over and killed while doing his job.

Some 134 communes in the Var department have already lowered their flags to honour Jean-Mathieu Michel, mayor of the small town of Signes, between Marseille and Toulon, who was fatally injured in a collision with a van on Monday, August 5.

He had stopped two people illegally dumping rubble on a private road, and ordered them to pick up what they had recently thrown out. The pair complied, but then began reversing the vehicle while Mr Michel was behind it.

The Association des Maires Ruraux de France called on mayors in the Var department and in small communes across France to honour Mr Michel, who had been mayor of Signes for 36 years, by flying their flags at half mast on August 9, the day of his funeral.

A manslaughter investigation has been launched. A 23-year-old man was taken into police custody immediately after the incident, and was placed under judicial supervision after being referred to the Toulon Regional Court, according to francetvinfo.

A ceremony was also due to take place at 4pm on Thursday at Signes town hall.

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