Wife of brain dead bus driver in Bayonne: ‘I will fight’

The wife of a bus driver who was left brain dead after an attack in Bayonne, southwest France, has said she “did not expect to receive such support” and will “fight for justice”, as a march took place in the city yesterday.

9 July 2020
Thousands of people march in white in Bayonne. Wife of brain dead bus driver in Bayonne: ‘I will fight’Thousands of people came out to march in support and solidarity in Bayonne after a bus driver was left brain dead in an attack
By Connexion journalist

The attack on Philippe Monguillot, who is 59 and a father-of-three, happened on Sunday July 5 on a Tram’bus in the Balichon area of the city, according to the Agence France-Presse.

The situation escalated after the bus driver reportedly refused to allow several people to board the bus, as they did not have tickets, were trying to bring a non-muzzled dog on board, and were not wearing face masks.

Wearing face masks is now mandatory on public transport in France.

The driver suffered severe head injuries after being punched, and was unconscious when emergency services arrived. He has since been declared brain dead and is still in a coma.

Four people have been arrested in connection with the attack, and two have been charged for attempted murder.

More than 6,000 transport workers and locals attended a march in Bayonne (Pyrénées-Atlantiques, Nouvelle-Aquitaine) yesterday (July 8). The march began at the site of the incident and continued towards the hospital.

At the family’s request, marchers wore white. Police said that more than 6,000 people were present at 20h.

Mr Monguillot’s wife Véronique spoke at the event to much applause, and promised to bring her husband’s attackers to justice, as she expressed emotion at the outpouring of support. She marched holding a large photo of herself and her husband.

Speaking to reporters at the march, she said: ”I am seeing people arrive, I see nothing but white T-shirts. Obviously I don’t know everyone, but I did not expect this at all. When I was interviewed [about the march], I was thinking it would be maybe a few hundred people.

“I did not expect to see so much support. People I know, people I don’t know, people who have come from afar, I don’t know. The nightmare that we are living in, has crossed borders - I think many people know - [the story] is in other countries. It’s terrible, but when I see this human tide, it’s important. It’s incredible, unbelievable support.”

She added: “I will fight to the end [for justice]. I have strength inside me, I have almost no more tears, just anger. I will fight. I am not afraid, justice will be with me. I have promised my husband, I told him in his ear, I will win for you.”

 

Bus workers honour victim

In the wake of the attack, bus services in the region and beyond have been disrupted or temporarily halted as other transport staff stopped work in protest at the attack and also in fear of their own safety.

Several transport networks also held a minute of silence in Mr Monguillot’s honour, and have called for support from several workers’ unions.

Stoppages were held in the Pays Basque, La Rochelle, Agen, Périgueux (Nouvelle-Aquitaine), but also beyond the region, including in Lyon (‎Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes), Lille (Hauts-de-France), Orléans (Centre Val-de-Loire) and even Paris.

Arrests

The four people arrested in connection with the attack have been questioned and are being detained in police custody.

Two have been charged with attempted murder. The other two are being investigated for allegedly evading arrest, and for failure to assist a person in danger.

Minister for transport Jean-Baptiste Djebbari last night visited Bayonne to meet Mr Monguillot’s colleagues, who have not restarted work in the wake of the attack.

Mr Djebbari called the attack “a particularly shocking tragedy”.

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