“Killed by indifference”: France shocked by death in a busy Paris street | France

The death of an 85-year-old man who allegedly succumbed to hypothermia after falling and spending nine hours lying and ignoring on a bitterly cold street in central Paris has sparked grief, anger and disbelief in France and beyond.

Rene Robert, a Swiss photographer known for his shots of some of Spain’s most famous flamenco stars, died last week after slipping during one of his late-night walks in the bustling area of ​​Paris where he lived.

According to his friend the journalist Michel Mompontet, Robert fell rue de Turbigo, between Place de la République and Les Halles.

“He got dizzy and fell,” Mompontet said in a series of tweets. “Unable to get up, he was pinned to the spot in the cold for nine hours until a homeless man called the emergency services. Too late. He was hypothermic and couldn’t hold on to life. During those nine hours, no passerby stopped to check why this man was lying on the sidewalk. Not one.”

Mompontet, who also recounted the circumstances of his friend’s death on France TV Info, said Robert had been “killed out of indifference”, adding: “If this horrific death could be of any use, it would be this: when a human is lying on the sidewalk, we should check them out – no matter how busy we are.

Mompontet pointed out that many people – including himself – often look away when it comes to people on the street. “Before giving lessons or accusing anyone, I need to answer a little question that makes me uncomfortable,” the journalist told France TV Info. “Am I 100% sure that I would have stopped if I had been confronted with this scene – a man on the ground? Have I ever turned away from a homeless man lying in a doorway? »

The death, which occurred in a district of Paris where many homeless people sleep rough, has sparked a debate about civic responsibility and basic human decency.

A headline in Le Figaro read: “Photographer René Robert, dead in the indifference of the middle of the street”.

The Spanish Embassy in the Netherlands tweeted: “The death of René Robert, who immortalized all the great flamenco artists with his camera, challenges our collective conscience.”

Robert, who has photographed flamenco legends like Camarón de la Isla and Paco de Lucía, was remembered by another of his more recent subjects.

“Very sad about the loss of René Robert, whom I had the chance to meet and be photographed,” said Grammy-winning flamenco singer Arcángel. “I don’t understand why nobody helped him; I don’t want to think that we live in a society with so few values.

The Olivar association, which has worked with young homeless people in Madrid for more than 30 years, said it was saddened but not surprised. “A lot of people talk about the terrible story of René Robert,” he said in a tweet. “But the reality is that this is the cruel, everyday experience of those who live and die on the streets. What is happening to us as a society that something like this can happen?”

According to homeless associations, 600 people die each year on the streets of France.