Europe

Three Air France shirt ripping protesters found guilty

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Media captionAir France human resources manager Xavier Broseta was forced to climb over a fence to escape

Three former Air France employees have been found guilty of ripping the shirts from the backs of two executives fleeing a meeting about job cuts.

A French court gave the men suspended sentences of three to four months for organised violence, while two others were found not guilty.

Another 11 were handed €500 (£425; $530) fines for property damage.

The October 2015 protest made headlines across the world after the executives were filmed climbing a fence to escape.

A hundred people protesting against restructuring plans broke down a fence and invaded a boardroom at Air France headquarters in the Parisian suburb of Roissy, next to Charles de Gaulle Airport, forcing the executives to flee.

Air France-KLM was considering cutting almost 3,000 jobs and extending pilots' working hours. The proposal has since been dropped.

But as the executives fled, the angry mob - who were chanting "naked, naked" and "resignation" - began to pull the clothes from their backs. They were left with no option but to scramble over the wire fence to safety.

Image copyright AP
Image caption Air France executives Pierre Plissonnier, centre, and Xavier Broseta, right, were forced to climb a fence to escape
Image copyright AFP
Image caption Defence lawyer Lilia Mhissen (second from right) is advising the men to appeal

Pierre Plissonnier, director of long-haul operations at the airline, told the court of his "humiliation" at seeing pictures of himself scrambling over a fence to escape the mob, his shirt and suit jacket hanging in tatters.

Human resources director Xavier Broseta had his shirt entirely ripped from his body.

Most of the 15 who faced trial - four of whom have been fired - were union members.

The violence of the protest shocked France, with Prime Minister Manuel Valls calling for the defendants, whom he branded "rogues", to be given stiff sentences.

But Lilia Mhissen, lawyer for 11 of the defendants, said the verdict was "outrageous" and that she would advise her clients - whom she described as scapegoats - to file an appeal.

Only one person walked away from the court in Bobigny, a suburb of Paris, without being convicted of any charge.

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