The attorney general requested an eight-month suspended prison sentence against international rugby player Bastien Chalureau, tried on Tuesday on appeal for a racist attack against two men in 2020 in Toulouse. At first instance, he was given a six-month suspended prison sentence. The decision of the court of appeal will be rendered on January 16. The decision of the court of appeal will be rendered on January 16.
At the bar of the Toulouse Court of Appeal on Tuesday, Bastien Chalureau, blue gray jacket and black-rimmed glasses on his nose, played low profile. He admits to having drunk too much that evening “beer, whiskey, vodka” and having struck the two complainants. He assures that he was going through a “difficult moment” in his playing career, because he was not playing for his club, Stade Toulouse.
“It’s not forbidden to drink, it’s just forbidden to hit people,” replied Bastien Chalureau, the president of the court of appeal. The 31-year-old rugby player denies having said to them “Are you OK?”, as the complainants claim. “I greatly regret what I did, I am not racist”, “I have never made an inappropriate comment towards anyone”, “I worked on myself with a psychologist, I changed my hygiene life”, defends the second line of Montpellier.
The attorney general asks him if he had apologized to his victims. He answers “no”. Since then, he says, he no longer drinks or goes out at night, and he believes that this has allowed his career to take off.
“When you are a top athlete, you must have exemplary behavior. Why attack two people who have done nothing to you?” asks the representative of the public prosecutor. He was then surprised that during his hearing before the police, 12 days after the events, the player denied any form of violence. In his submissions, the attorney general requested a heavier sentence than that to which Chalureau was sentenced. “The facts are established”, the complainants “evoked undeniably racist remarks”, he argues, estimating that the consumption of alcohol had probably “disinhibited” the defendant.
For David Mendel, the defense lawyer, the first instance judgment, which retained the aggravating circumstance of the racist nature of the athlete's comments, is “infamous”. “You have nothing in the file to contradict the words of Mr. Chalureau (...) You take the testimonies of the witnesses as objective testimonies,” argues Mr. Mendel.
“If there is no proof that these comments were made, the presumption of innocence applies. On the racist motive, you must relax him. Bastien is not racist, everyone knows that,” he insists. Among the documents included in the file, a letter from his captain and teammate within the Montpellier rugby club Yacouba Camara, which clears Chalureau of any racist tendencies.
According to the defense, if the defendant and his two victims came to blows at 4:00 a.m. that night, in the center of Toulouse, it was following an exchange of words in a bar, more early in the evening. “My clients heard racist insults and then they were attacked. It's not a fight. This is gratuitous aggression. It all started with a blow from behind to one of my clients,” underlines Me Laurent Sabounji, lawyer for the plaintiffs.
As the Rugby World Cup approached, the affair resurfaced in the media, leading the Head of State to speak out on the matter. Emmanuel Macron then estimated that in the event of confirmation on appeal of the judgment, it “would be preferable” that he no longer wears the jersey of the France team. During the World Cup, Chalureau only played half an hour against Uruguay. He was called up to the France group on September 1 to compensate for Paul Willemse's injury.