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Police trial in teens’ deaths reopened

PARIS — France’s highest appeals court reopened a trial Wednesday for two police officers accused of failing to help two teenagers whose 2005 electrocution deaths sparked riots across the country.

The brother of one of the two victims praised the court for overturning a lower court ruling last year to drop the case against the officers for lack of concrete evidence.

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The youths — 15-year-old Bouna Traore and 17-year-old Zyed Benna — were electrocuted while hiding from police in a power substation in the Paris suburb of Clichy-sous-Bois on Oct. 27, 2005. A third teenager suffered serious burns.

Frustrated minority youths in suburbs around the country blamed police for the deaths and erupted in anger, setting cars ablaze and smashing store windows.

‘‘It’s a great day for us and for all those that shared our pain and suffering,’’ said Traore’s brother, Siyakha, speaking to the Sipa news agency outside the Paris court.

The question of the police officers’ responsibility in the deaths has been a divisive
one.

In 2010, investigating judges ruled that the officers should face trial on charges of ‘‘non-assistance to a person in danger.’’

But the regional prosecutor’s office argued there wasn’t enough evidence to show that the officers knew the boys were inside the power station.

Under French law, everyone must try to help a person in danger as long as they or others aren’t threatened by bringing such aid.

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