Jailed Irish football fan held in Paris prison ‘as example’
David Hunt jailed for eight months in Europe’s largest prison, Fleury-Mérogis
In March, the Prison Officers’ Association (POA) balloted 96 per cent in favour of taking industrial action, up to and including all-out strikes. File Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times
The Irish soccer fan jailed in Paris for eight months is imprisoned in Europe’s largest prison, Fleury-Mérogis, which is known for overcrowding and as a hotbed of Islamic fundamentalism.
The French prosecutor who sentenced David Hunt and his British co-defendant, Stephen Jamnitzky, said he wanted “to make an example” of the two men, according to their court-appointed lawyer, Alexandre Reynaud.
“The prosecutor asked for a heavy sentence,” Mr Reynaud said. “He said he had to make an example, a few days after fights between Russian and English fans in Marseille. Ordinarily, someone with no police record in France would receive a suspended sentence, or at most three or four months for this kind of incident. Eight months is a very severe sentence.”
Hunt and Jamnitzky are both appealing their sentence, but it could take three to four months for their appeal to be heard. “Prison conditions are not good,” Mr Reynaud said.
Hunt and Jamnitzky, who were in France for the Euro 2016 championship, met at a party in the early hours of June 15th. Both had been drinking. At 6am, they say they were threatened by a third man who they did not know in the Gare du Nord.
Like Jamnitzky, the victim was of Polish origin and lived in Britain. He was also in France for the tournament.
Mr Reynaud has not yet received the court documents, and did not see the victim or photographs of the victim, but he believes that he was not hospitalised.
The victim did not attend the trial on June 17th.
Mr Reynaud insisted that Mr Hunt was not armed. But he was charged with armed assault because he carried a walking stick for an injured ankle, which police said he used in the fight.
The lawyer met his clients for the first time on the morning of their trial.
“Like everyone in such a situation, they were tired, worried and very upset to find themselves in that situation,” Mr Reynaud said.
“They didn’t understand, because they felt the fight was caused by threatening behaviour and they were only defending themselves. They didn’t understand how it took on such proportions.”