Two men charged with organised violence in France after pushing cyclists into ditches "for fun" in the south west of the country have gone on trial, The Guardian reported.
The two men, aged 20 and 22, are on trial in Toulouse after they were arrested last year, accused of being behind a series of attacks on cyclists on rural roads. It might sound comical, but riders were left with fractures after the incidents. The defendants face up to five years in prison, should they be found guilty for the crimes, with the first hearing taking place this week.
One victim told La Dépêche: "It was around April 5. As often, I went out by bike in the afternoon. Arriving on a small country road, between Pujaudran and Mérenvielle, I felt that a car was following me silently. It was driving slowly, behind me, while it could easily overtake me.
"Then, after a few minutes, this [Renault] Clio came up to my level. The passenger suddenly pushed me down. I was so focused on my fall that I couldn’t read the license plate,”
Between April and December 2023, at least 12 riders were targeted by assailants, ostensibly for "fun". One rider fractured a wrist, another dislocated their shoulder, while a third broke a collarbone.
“I was traveling with two friends, between noon and two, between Lévignac and the Bouconne forest,” another victim said. "Suddenly, I felt the front of a car stuck to me, a few millimetres away, and I felt a hand propelling me. I didn’t have time to react.”
One man said that he had been slapped or punched by someone from a car: “I moved to the side to let it pass, it slowed alongside me. I felt a violent blow to my left ear."
Another said that their feet and bike were touched by someone reaching from the car. “Seeing that I didn’t fall, the passenger reached out his arm and violently pushed me to the ground,” they said.
Brice Zanin, a lawyer for several of the cyclists, told France Inter radio: “The only motive was idiocy, because once the victims had been pushed off their bikes, the men drove off laughing in their car. It was idiocy and a desire to have fun to the detriment of others.”
Local cyclists were avoiding the affected area because attacks were known to be commmon. “Everyone was talking about it. We all avoided the area so as not to get into trouble,” Michel Fontayne, a spokesperson for the Haute-Garonne cycle tourism committee, told Sud Ouest.
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