23 Sep 2023

Two jailed for killing French bus driver over Covid mask rule

11:20 am on 23 September 2023
Veronique Monguillot, wife of bus driver Philippe Monguillot  in Bayonne, France, on July 8, 2020 during the white march for her husband, who was declared brain dead after being attacked for refusing to let aboard a group of people who were not wearing face masks. (Photo by Jerome Gilles/NurPhoto)

Veronique Monguillot, centre, during the "White March" for her bus driver husband, Philippe, who was attacked for refusing to let aboard people not wearng face masks. Photo: Jerome Gilles / NurPhoto / NurPhoto via AFP

By Andre Rhoden-Paul, BBC News

Two men have been jailed after beating a French bus driver to death after he asked them to get off for not correctly wearing face masks during the pandemic.

Wyssem Manai and Maxime Guyennon left Philippe Monguillot beside the bus with serious head injuries in the city of Bayonne in south-west France in 2020.

Manai and Guyennon, were jailed for 15 and 13 years respectively on Thursday.

The pair, both aged 25, were convicted of intentional violence resulting in death without intent to kill.

Prosecutors said Monguillot was set upon after asking a small group of men on his bus to show their tickets and adjust face-masks they were wearing over their chins.

The attack on the evening of 5 July 2020 occurred after the end of France's first Covid lockdown, when masks were mandatory on all public transport.

In an ensuing confrontation, Monguillot was kicked and punched and his head hit the pavement as he fell.

The 59-year-old father of three died after five days in hospital.

The attorney general had asked for 15 years imprisonment for the two men who were sentenced at a court in Pau, also in the Pyrénées-Atlantiques region.

Veronique Monguillot, widow of the victim, was angry the men did not get a maximum penalty of 30 years imprisonment.

"We demanded exemplary justice. We can't say that we got it, although they are convicted. Let them rot in prison," she reportedly said leaving the court.

"They killed my husband, they killed my daughters' dad. My life has been over since 5 July, 2020."

Monguillot's death caused shock across France and thousands of people took part in a protest march led by his widow in Bayonne.

This story was first published by the BBC.

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