French bus driver dies after being attacked by passengers ‘who refused to wear face masks’

11 July 2020, 00:14

Philippe Monguillot with his wife Veronique Monguillot
Philippe Monguillot with his wife Veronique Monguillot. Picture: Getty

By Maddie Goodfellow

A French bus driver has died after being attacked by passengers following a row over their reported refusal to wear face masks.

Philippe Monguillot, 59, died on Friday, five days after the assault, which left him brain dead.

His daughter told AFP news agency that doctors and the family decided they needed to "let him go".

The assault took place in Bayonee in southwestern France.

Mr Monguillot was reportedly attacked by three passengers after he asked them to wear face coverings on his bus and to see their tickets.

Face coverings are mandatory on public transport in France.

Two men in their 20s have been charged with attempted murder.

Two other men have been charged with not assisting a person in danger. A fifth man has been charged with attempting to hide a suspect.

Thousands lined the streets of Bayonne to pay tribute
Thousands lined the streets of Bayonne to pay tribute. Picture: PA

On Wednesday, thousands of people dressed in white and took part in a march honouring Mr Monguillot in Bayonee, where the assault took place.

The city's mayor Jean-René Etchegaray has condemned the “barbaric” attack.

He tweeted: “Philippe Monguillot has left us. He succumbs to barbaric aggression in the exercise of his profession.

“A faithful servant of the public service, he leaves the image of a generous man. Support for colleagues in grief.

"Our affection for his grieving wife and family.”

Philippe Monguillot's wife and daughters attended the march
Philippe Monguillot's wife and daughters attended the march. Picture: PA

French prime minister Jean Castex said he had faced a “cowardly assault” and his story “touches us in the heart”.

He tweeted: “The Republic recognises in him an exemplary citizen and will not forget him. Justice will punish the perpetrators of this abject crime.”

“I extend my sincere condolences to the family, relatives and colleagues of Philippe Monguillot, bus driver who was violently attacked last Sunday in Bayonne.

“This heinous and cowardly act must not go unpunished.”

He added: “I will go tomorrow to #Bayonne to take stock of safety in the city with the heads of state services and meet the drivers and unions of public transport.”

The European Transport Workers’ Federation said in a statement: “For us, it is essential that management quickly implement measures to ensure the safety of drivers.“Companies must value lives over profits.”

It added on Twitter: “We express our support and solidarity with Philippe Monguillot’s family, friends and colleagues.

“We condemn this barbaric and senseless act, and once again, we demand the swift implementation measures to protect workers from such attacks!”