Investigations have opened – and a national debate stirred – into a violent attack that happened in Paris’ 15th arrondissement.
A mobile phone recording of security footage shows around 10 attackers wearing masks and hoods, kicking punching and swinging metal implements at a young man lying on the ground – who is left unable to move by the end of the 25-second clip.
The group of attackers fled as police officers called by witnesses arrived on the scene.
The attack happened on the Beaugrenelle esplanade – a large paved surface next to the popular Beaugrenelle shopping centre - at 18:30 in the evening on January 15.
Victim was 14 at time of attack
The victim of the attack has been identified as Yuriy, a student in 3ème at collège Guillaume-Apollinaire in the 15th arrondissement, and a football fan who plays with the Athletic Club in Boulogne-Billancourt, near Paris.
Yuriy celebrated his 15th birthday last week, and has been described as a “hard-working student”.
After being treated in the scene by the emergency services, Yuriy was moved to hospital Necker where he was placed in a medical coma, due to the severity of his injuries.
His mother, Nataliya Kruchenyk, told news source BFM Paris: “[the attackers] fractured his skull, he had a broken arm, fingers and ribs.” Since the attack, she said he has “started to wake up and move a little”, but still cannot speak and is suffering anxiety attacks.
Mayor for the 15th arrondissement Philippe Goujon described the attack as “without precedent, and of a savagery we rarely see in Paris”.
Investigations into attack ongoing
Ms Kruchenyk since has launched a campaign on social media to try to find her son’s attackers. She has called particularly on Yuriy’s friends – two of whom were present at the scene – to tell police what they know.
Initial inquiries have suggested that the attackers approached Yuriy and his friends.
While his two friends managed to run away, Yuriy tripped and fell to the ground at which point the group of 10 became violent. Sources close to the inquiry have said a metal bar and a mini hammer were found close to the scene.
The group of attackers were reportedly from the Vanves neighbourhood of Paris, and have previously clashed with another group of youths from Beaugrenelle.
Mr Goujon said: “There have been previous incidents on the esplanade. There are groups of young people who hang around there and sell things illegally.”
It is thought rivalry between the two groups may have initiated the attack on Yuriy. But Yuriy has no criminal history and, so far, no links between him and the group from Beaugrenelle have been found, making it possible he was “collateral damage”.
It is unknown why Yuriy and his friends were on the esplanade at 18:30, despite the national curfew stating from 18:00.
Video footage draws attention to attack
While the attack on Yuriy happened on January 15, it was not until the video footage was released January 22 that the case started receiving national attention.
By Sunday, January 25, the clip has been watched more than four million times, and notable figures such as politician Marine Le Pen, footballer Antoine Griezmann, actor Omar Sy and chef Cyril Lignac have tweeted their support for the teenager.
Mayor of Paris Anne Hidalgo has since said she was “extremely shocked” by video footage of the attack.
And Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin said of the attack: “The police inquiry must allow us to shine a light on the facts and arrest the perpetrators of this vile act”.
Many online commentators have described the attack as a “lynching”.
An advisor from President Macron, and the Ambassador for the Ukraine in France – Yuriy and his mother are both Ukrainian – have both been in touch with the family.