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French bus driver brain-dead after passengers attack him for telling them to wear masks


Wednesday July 8, 2020
Bus drivers in Bayonne, southwestern France, wait for a visit by the junior transport minister on Tuesday, two days after a colleague was attacked for refusing to let a passenger board without a mask. Photo: AFP
Bus drivers in Bayonne, southwestern France, wait for a visit by the junior transport minister on Tuesday, two days after a colleague was attacked for refusing to let a passenger board without a mask. Photo: AFP


A bus driver in France was declared brain dead Monday after being attacked by several people he reportedly refused to let on board because they had no tickets and were not wearing face masks as required.

A police source in Bayonne, near the ritzy Atlantic resort of Biarritz in southwestern France, said five people were now in custody over the incident on Sunday evening.

The source said the driver, in his fifties, tried to prevent a man, who was not wearing a face mask, from boarding the bus with his dog.

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The driver also asked four other passengers, who had already mounted the bus without masks, to get off.

The driver is said to have stepped out of the bus and was subsequently hit in the head by one of the group, according to the police source.

The assault resulted in a serious head injury.

The driver was unconscious when brought to hospital, and doctors declared him brain dead on Monday.

Regional bus services were disrupted Monday after several of the driver's colleagues refused to work in protest against the brutal attack.

The drivers present at the protest said the regional transport network company Chronoplus had not done enough to ensure the safety for their drivers.

The police have not officially released a statement about the incident or what sparked it.

Masks are mandatory on public transport across France. Everyone travelling by train, plane, bus or taxi must wear a facial mask, according to the rules set in place by the government to prevent a resurgence in the number of coronavirus cases.

A man in his thirties was arrested on Sunday and four more people were taken into custody on Monday, said the prosecuting service.

Regional bus services were disrupted Monday after several of the driver's colleagues refused to work in protest against the brutal attack.

Bayonne Mayor Jean-Rene Etchegaray addressed employees of the bus company on Monday.

"We have witnessed a particularly violent and barbaric act," he said, calling for the perpetrators to be brought to justice and for a punishment "severe enough" to serve as a warning to others.

 



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