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Last Updated: Tuesday, 21 March 2006, 14:27 GMT
Coma case fuels France jobs anger
Demonstrator Cyril Ferez, 18 Mar 06
Cyril Ferez: There are conflicting reports about his injuries
A row has erupted in France over a demonstrator who fell into a coma when protests against a new youth employment law turned violent on Saturday.

The SUD PTT union said Cyril Ferez, 39, was trampled underfoot during a police charge at Place de la Nation in Paris.

But a paramedic from the CRS riot police said Mr Ferez had told him on the way to hospital that he had been attacked by other demonstrators.

Mr Ferez had been "semi-conscious, with multiple facial bruising," he said.

Mr Ferez belongs to the SUD PTT union, which has accused the government of "trying to cover up a police blunder," the French news agency AFP reports.

[The government] has failed to learn the lessons from the tremor which rocked the suburbs
La Marseillaise newspaper

SUD PTT said police had "refused to call for first aid as Cyril was lying on the ground".

Paris violence

On Saturday hundreds of thousands across France took part in marches and rallies against the law, which makes it easier to dismiss young workers.

Clashes erupted in Paris late on Saturday, with masked demonstrators hurling projectiles at police and setting cars ablaze. Police responded with baton charges and tear gas.

French unions and students have decided to step up their campaign against the new labour law by holding a day of strikes and protests on 28 March.

The government insists it will not withdraw the measure, which it says will help reduce youth unemployment.

The government says the plan will encourage employers to hire young people, but students fear it will erode job stability in a country where more than 20% of 18- to 25-year-olds are unemployed.

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