Clement Meric killing: France bans far-right groups

Serge Ayoub, leader of the Revolutionary Nationalist Youth in France, after police questioning
Image caption Revolutionary Nationalist Youth leader Serge Ayoub has been questioned by police

France has banned three far-right groups allegedly linked to the death of a left-wing activist in a Paris brawl.

Government spokeswoman Najat Vallaud-Belkacem said the Third Way, the Revolutionary Nationalist Youth (JNR) and the Desire to Dream association had been officially dissolved.

Wednesday's announcement follows the death of Clement Meric, 18.

He was badly beaten in a clash in a busy shopping area between far-right and anti-fascist activists in June.

Five people linked with the banned groups are facing charges over the incident.

Ms Vallaud-Belkacem said the three movements had the characteristics of "private militias" who "provoked discrimination, hate and violence".

French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault had previously asked the interior minister to take steps "immediately" to dissolve the JNR, the militant wing of the Third Way.

Increasing tension

Image caption Clement Meric had taken part in demonstrations for left-wing causes

Serge Ayoub, the leader of both groups, was quoted by Agence France Presse news agency as saying the government's decision was an "abuse of power".

He said he would appeal against it before the Council of State, France's top administrative court.

The groups, which are on the fringes of French politics, have denied any link to the brawl.

Mr Ayoub reportedly said he had already disbanded the two movements in June "so as not to be dissolved by others".

He has been questioned by police following the killing but is not a suspect.

France has seen increasing tension between left and right, following a fierce debate over the introduction of same-sex marriage.

The government has vowed to crackdown on fascist groups.

Mr Meric was placed on life support before being declared brain dead following the fight near St Lazare railway station in the north-west of the French capital.

Paris Prosecutor Francois Molins said witnesses had reported that the two groups had run into each other by chance.

He said the arrested suspects claimed to have responded to provocation by the left-wing group.

The main suspect, named as Esteban Morillo, 20, has been placed under formal investigation for use of violence that led to involuntary manslaughter.

French President Francois Hollande said he condemned the attack "in the strongest terms".

France's main far-right party, the National Front, described the killing of Mr Meric as "appalling".

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