LYON - Six people have been remanded in custody over the killing of a French teenager whose death at a village dance party sparked political controversy in France, prosecutors said Sunday.
Last weekend a 16-year-old pupil, identified only as Thomas, was stabbed when a group of outsiders descended on a festive crowd gathered in Crepol, in the southeastern region of Drome, for a dance party in the village hall.
He died on his way to hospital. Eight others were injured, three of them seriously.
On Tuesday, nine suspects were detained in connection with the teenager's murder.
Three are minors, the others are aged between 19 and 22.
Even before the arrests, far-right politicians had been quick to blame the attack on youths from immigrant backgrounds from public housing.
On Wednesday, more than 6,000 people marched in the southeastern town of Romans-sur-Isere, where Thomas's high school is located, in memory of the pupil.
On Sunday, some 40 ultra-right activists gathered in the centre of the town but were dispersed by police, while around a hundred marched through the town on Saturday evening.
The protesters clashed with police on Saturday, and several people were injured, said a police source, with 24 arrested over the weekend.
- 'Unacceptable violence' -
Local public prosecutor Laurent de Caigny denounced the "unacceptable violence" over the weekend and called for "calm and respect for everyone" during a press briefing on Sunday.
"No one can take justice into their own hands outside the law", he added, calling on investigators to be allowed to work given the "extreme seriousness" of the case.
Thierry Devimeux, the prefect of the Drome region, also condemned the violence during a briefing on Sunday.
He said one activist had been removed from his car by unknown assailants and "beaten up" and his vehicle "burnt".
After 96 hours in police custody, the suspects in Thomas's killing were transferred to the Valence courthouse on Saturday.
The public prosecutor's office had requested the opening of an investigation into charges including attempted murder and "murder in an organised gang."
Nine people have been placed under investigation, de Caigny said in a statement, without providing further details.
"Six people, including two minors, were remanded in custody," he added. "Three people, including one minor, were placed under judicial supervision."
More than a hundred witnesses have been questioned but the prosecutor said on Saturday that the motive and the details of the crime had not yet been established in full.
According to the preliminary investigation, an altercation that began inside the dance hall, possibly linked to a remark about the hairstyle of one of the suspects, continued outside. More young people arrived in one or two cars.
Nine witnesses reported hearing remarks aimed against "white people", said the public prosecutor.
However, de Caigny said that the investigation cannot at this stage state with certainty that the victims have been targeted on the basis of their race, ethnicity, or religion.
Most of the suspects admit to having been in Crepol, but deny having stabbed anyone.
Around 2,000 people attended the teenager's funeral in the village of Saint-Donat-sur-l'Herbasse on Friday.
The far-right branded the assault as anti-white racism.
"Now anti-white racism is hitting our countryside," Marion Marechal, the leading candidate for the far-right Reconquete party of ex-presidential hopeful Eric Zemmour in next year's European elections, claimed on X, formerly Twitter.