Three parliamentarians as well as the president of a provincial community in New Caledonia called, Thursday, August 19, for the departure of the commander of the gendarmerie Eric Steiger after the revelation by the information site Mediapart of his conviction in 2020 for domestic violence.
According to Mediapart, Eric Steiger, arrived in New Caledonia in August 2020 as second in command of the gendarmerie before being promoted to commander of the gendarmerie in New Caledonia on July 8. A number one post in the gendarmerie on the island “Predisposing him to be placed on a list of aptitudes to become general”.
However, according to the investigation site, this 48-year-old colonel was sentenced at first instance in February 2020 to six months suspended prison sentence for physical and psychological violence on his wife committed between November 2017 and June 2018. On May 28, he saw his sentence reduced on appeal to a fine of 6,000 euros by the Paris Court of Appeal.
“Despite his conviction which, following his request and by decision of the court, will not appear on his criminal record, Colonel Eric Steiger has not been the subject of any disciplinary investigation”, writing Mediapart in his investigation. Contacted by Agence France-Presse, the gendarmerie in New Caledonia did not wish to react to these revelations.
“Send this colonel back to France”
“I pointed out this night to the highest authorities of the State that this function was incompatible with this type of offense and that the decision had to be taken as soon as possible to send this colonel back to France”, wrote on Facebook Sonia Backés, president of the southern province of New Caledonia, where Nouméa is located.
The elected non-independence activist adds that “In a country where 22% of women are victims of violence, (…) the decision to change the head of the gendarmerie in New Caledonia should not suffer from hesitation ”.
In a press release, the deputies Philippe Gomes and Philippe Dunoyer, as well as the senator Gérard Poadja, all three members of the center-right party Calédonie Ensemble, consider that this sentence “Disqualified Colonel Eric Steiger from exercising the responsibilities of commander of the gendarmerie forces in New Caledonia”.
They then quote the Minister of the Interior, Gérald Darmanin, who had said in an interview with Parisian published on 1er August, that when police officers or gendarmes are convicted of serious acts and that this sentence is final, “They should no longer be in contact with the public while awaiting a decision from the disciplinary council”. The minister also affirmed that the treatment of complaints for domestic violence would henceforth be a priority for the police and gendarmes everywhere in France.
“For all these reasons, we consider that the Minister of the Interior must imperatively proceed with the replacement of the person concerned”, they added, recalling the “Scourge” violence against women in New Caledonia.
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