French international rugby player Mohamed Haouas (left) speaks with his lawyer Marc Gallix
Montpellier (France) (AFP) - Prosecutors on Friday asked that Mohamed Haouas receive a two-year suspended sentence for his role as “leader” in a brawl in which the future France prop and his friends attacked like “a pack of wolves”.
Haouas, 29, is on trial in Montpellier, in the south of France, with five friends from his youth for a fight ten years ago.
Prosecutors compared the six defendants to “a pack of wolves attacking a man on the ground,” and emphasised that Haouas played the role of “leader” but they also praised the rugby player for escaping his difficult youth.
The Montpellier criminal court will render its decision on June 30, two months before the World Cup in France.
Haouas has won 16 French caps and was part of the squad in this year’s Six Nations, although he received a red card for butting on his only appearance against Scotland and was banned for the rest of the tournament. He became the first player to be sent off twice in the Six Nations.
He faces charges of “aggravated violence” and “destruction of property of others” stemming from a brawl early on New Year’s Day 2014.
After spending New Year’s Eve in a discotheque, Haouas and a dozen friends stopped at a bakery.
There a fight broke out with the owner of a nightclub who had come in to buy pastries, leaving his daughter outside in the car with a friend.
Convinced that Haouas was attacking his daughter, the club owner came out and, he admitted to the court, punched the rugby player in the face.
Haouas denied having even spoken to the teenager.
“I was talking with a girlfriend, then I took a punch from someone who said ‘Don’t touch my daughter’,” Haouas told the court.
Haouas and his friends said the man fired a handgun into the air, though no other witnesses confirmed the allegation.
“I thought I was going to die. Then I got angry, I wanted to disarm him. I hit him,” Haouas said.
Surveillance camera footage shows an outburst of violence in the bakery, with Haouas and his friends beating a man with fists, feet and iron bars.
Their reaction was “totally disproportionate”, said the prosecutor although he also said that Haouas, who was raised by his mother in a poor part of Montpellier, showed how an individual can rise above his circumstances.
In February 2022, Haouas received an 18-month suspended sentence for his part in a series of robberies of a tobacconist in April 2014 and for receiving a stolen car.
Haouas, married with two children, has spent his entire career at the Montpellier club, but plans to switch to Top 14 rival Clermont in the summer.