Residents of a coastal town in France are outraged over a crime wave brought on by suspects from Africa and the Middle East, according to reports.
Tensions boiled after three youths from Algeria were caught stealing a scooter by residents of Cerbère, a commune near the Spanish border.
On December 29, the suspects were confronted by locals while trying to carry out the brazen theft, L'Indépendant reports.
During an ensuing altercation, the suspects damaged multiple vehicles and threatened to beat a female police officer with a stick.
"I'm fed up, fed up, fed up," one of the residents exclaimed, according to police.
In court, the trio reportedly denied any wrongdoing, claiming they were victims of an unprovoked attack, despite the incident being captured on municipal surveillance cameras.
"We did nothing. We were walking and we were attacked," one of the defendants claimed in court in Perpignan.
"It was the fourth one who caused the damage and broke the steering of the scooter. We want to go back to Algeria."
In response, the prosecutor asserted the suspects knew they were violating French law by being in the country illegally, while also lying about their country of origin at the time of their arrest.
"They want to return to their country. They understood well that they could not work without papers in Europe. Is not it true?" the attorney asserted.
"They do not behave like people who want to integrate. They lie all the time. They first pretended to be minors who arrived from Palestine. In Cerbère, people endlessly suffer this type of aggression. They are exasperated."
The migrants were convicted, given 1-year suspended prison sentences, and ordered to leave the country.
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