A 15-year-old boy was beaten up and left in a coma in an upscale area of Paris on January 15, prompting a wave of outrage across France and abroad, with famous figures including footballer Antoine Griezmann and actor Omar Sy expressing their revulsion at the attack and concern for the victim.
A video shared on social media shows the boy, identified only as Yuriy, being attacked by a mob of hooded men, who hit him repeatedly with a bat and then kicked him as he lay on the ground, in the Javel area in Paris’s 15th arrondissement (district), a middle-class residential neighbourhood along the river Seine.
Yuriy was part of a group of friends walking home from school, his mother, Nataliya Kruchenyk, told news channel BFMTV. The others managed to run away, she said, but Yuriy fell over as he tried to flee and was left isolated as the mob attacked him and left him for dead.
Police have launched an investigation into attempted intentional homicide.
“They’d put him in a fire truck to take him to hospital when I arrived,” Kruchenyk told BFMTV. “He was in a horrible state. They’d cut his skull open, they broke his arm, a finger, his shoulder and his ribs.”
Once he recovers, “we don’t know if he’ll be the same as he was before”, Kruchenyk continued. She called on witnesses to come forward so that “no more children have to go through what he suffered”.
“He’s started to wake up a bit in hospital, but he’s very agitated,” Kruchenyk told Le Figaro daily. “The doctors say that’s normal. He’s still being intubated and still hasn’t been able to talk.”
“The doctors are now relatively optimistic,” she continued. “God helps us despite everything.”
Famous French people took to social media to express their outrage over the attack and best wishes for Yuriy.
Des images insoutenables 😤. Force à toi Yuriy et bon rétablissement.
— Antoine Griezmann (@AntoGriezmann) January 23, 2021
“Unbearable images,” Griezmann wrote on Twitter on Saturday. “Be strong, Yuriy, and get better.”
“I wish you a strong recovery, Yuriy, and I’m thinking of you and yours,” Omar Sy, the star of Netflix crime drama Lupin, tweeted.
“All my support to Yuriy and his family,” French basketball star Rudy Gobert tweeted. “Hitting someone over and over and when they’re on the ground only shows the attackers’ cowardice.”
In Spain, former Real Madrid goalkeeper Iker Casillas tweeted: “What kind of shitty world is this?”
Mounting concern over crime in Paris
It was an “incredibly savage attack”, Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin wrote on Twitter. The investigation must bring the “perpetrators of this filthy act” to justice, he continued, while expressing “support for the young boy and his family”.
Extrêmement choquée par l’agression inouïe du jeune Yuriy. Les responsables doivent être retrouvés et jugés.
Tout mon soutien à lui et à sa famille. pic.twitter.com/ms09Ix0CKs
— Anne Hidalgo (@Anne_Hidalgo) January 23, 2021
“Extremely shocked by the unspeakable attack on Yuriy,” tweeted socialist Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo. “The people responsible must be found and brought to justice. All my support to him and his family.”
Paris has seen mounting concern over crime over recent years. Figures from 2019 – before Covid-19 lockdowns confined people in their homes for much of 2020 – showed a 46 percent increase in battery and assault over the previous six years.
Rachida Dati, mayor of the neighbouring 7th arrondissement with the right-wing Les Républicains (LR), was re-elected in last year’s mayoral elections in part by focusing on resurgent crime in the capital.
Expressing support for Yuriy and his family, Dati tweeted that “this violence comes from a feeling of impunity” and that this is “the track record of the left in the Paris mayor’s office”, where Socialists have ruled since 2001.
“We need a stronger police presence,” the 15th arrondissement’s LR Mayor Philippe Goujon told news TV station CNEWS.
(FRANCE 24 with AFP)