Questioned have been raised about why CCTV of the chaos outside the Stade de France stadium on the night of the Champions League final, was automatically deleted.
The footage – which apparently showed police pepper spraying fans and families at the match against Real Madrid last month – was not handed over to investigators and has now disappeared, say French senators who are looking into the handling of the evening.
They have demanded the state recognises responsibility for what happened and identifies guilty parties behind the mishandling of the crowds.
Security at the Stade de France appeared to have been overwhelmed by the size of the crowd, leaving many supporters waiting outside the ground for hours.
French authorities had initially blamed what it claimed were 30,000-40,000 English fans they say turned up “without valid tickets”.
But in an attempt to understand what occurred on the ground, Sky News geolocated several videos posted on social media, which showed fans being funnelled, scaling fences and being targeted with pepper spray.
Sky Sports News’ chief reporter, Kaveh Solhekol, was among those tear-gassed at the stadium.
The fiasco drew worldwide attention to heavy-handed French policing and raised questions about how France manages security at big events. Liverpool FC requested a “formal investigation” into events.
Senator Laurent Lafon, who is leading a commission seeking explanations for what happened, said: “The general impression of the unfolding of the Champions League’s final is a lack of preparation, upstream lack of preparedness, lack of responsiveness during the events and questionable management after the events.
“The gravity of the events… requires a response from the state,” he said.
He did not name any specific culprits but noted that all those responsible for managing the situation “at some point or another failed”, and that all of them worked for the government.
The automatic deletion of the surveillance video leads to “an impression that there is no-one responsible, and since there is no-one responsible, there is no-one who is guilty,” he said.
He and another senator spoke at the Stade de France to sum up the commission’s work so far. They did not directly address the police violence.
A senior government official tasked with issuing a report on what happened said security measures should have been adapted as crowds converged.
Questioned by the senators, Michel Cadot called for exploring new ways of crowd control at stadiums, such as mounted police and artificial intelligence systems to monitor and predict crowd movements, notably ahead of the Paris 2024 Olympics.
The Paris police chief has admitted the evening was a “failure” but he and the interior minister maintain that police were responding to the presence of tens of thousands of supporters without tickets or with forged tickets near the stadium.
Witnesses and Liverpool’s mayor have challenged the French authorities’ version and say French authorities are seeking to shift blame.
UEFA is also investigating the incidents, which marred one of the biggest games in world sports.
Real Madrid beat Liverpool 1-0 win the final.