French interior minister heading for Corsica for talks after violent protests

by mcardinal


France’s Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said on Monday that he would travel to Corsica later this week and hold talks with local elected officials after violent protests erupted on the weekend, a few weeks before the presidential election.

Calm must be restored immediately, the minister said in a statement.

Darmanin will head to Corsica on Wednesday and Thursday.

A protest that gathered 7,000 people on Sunday afternoon turned violent as around 300 hooded individuals used Molotov cocktails and other projectiles to target police and state institutions, setting fire to a public tax office, the local prefecture said in a statement.

There were 38 injured in the ongoing clashes, including 24 police officers, the prefecture said in an update.

There have been a number of demonstrations on the island of Corsica in the past week, including some clashes with police, in outrage over the strangling of Yvan Colonna by a fellow inmate at a prison in southern France.

Colonna, a Corsican shepherd, is serving a life sentence for the 1998 murder of Claude Erignac, who as prefect of Corsica embodied the power of the French state on an island with a history of separatist violence.

The attack left the Corsican militant in a coma and led to renewed calls for nationalist prisoners to be transferred from the French mainland to the island, closer to their families.

Authorities have long rejected these demands, saying nationalist prisoners were special status prisoners.

In a bid to ease tensions, Prime Minister Jean Castex last week removed this status for Colonna and two other detainees, members of the so-called “Erignac commando”. But the move was seen as too little too late by Colonna’s supporters in Corsica.

French prosecutors have also launched a terrorism investigation as Colonna’s attacker was serving a nine-year sentence for planning terrorist attacks.

Copyright 2022 Thomson/Reuters