Three Nouméa municipal policemen are now facing a formal criminal inquiry after a disturbing video was posted in a neighbourhood watch Facebook group, allegedly implicating them in acts of severe violence against a person they had just arrested.

The municipal police officers are not part or the French security forces that have been sent to restore law and order, RNZ Pacific understands.

Initial investigations established that the violence took place on at 6th Kilometre, in the night from 25 to 26 May, and that it “followed the arrest of several persons suspected on a theft attempt”, Nouméa’s public prosecutor Yves Dupas said in a statement on Wednesday.

The incident was captured in a brief video, later posted on social networks, being shared hundreds of times and going viral.

“It is the management of municipal police themselves who have signalled this to us”, Dupas said.

The Public Prosecutor’s office said it has verified the authenticity of the short footage which depicts a “representative of the security forces striking a violent foot kick to the head of a person sitting on the ground after he was arrested”

On the same video, the other two officers, all equipped with riot gear, are seen to be standing by, surrounding the victim.

Dupas said a formal inquiry is now underway against the three municipal police officers who are now facing charges of “violence from a person entrusted with public authority and failure to assist a person in peril”.

“This case will be treated with every expected severity, being related to presumed facts of illegitimate violence on the part of officers entrusted with a mission of administrative and judicial police”, the statement said.

It added that “this is the first case being treated for this type of acts since the beginning of civil unrest in New Caledonia” and further stressed that law enforcement agencies deployed on the ground have displayed “professionalism” in the “difficult management of the law enforcement operations carried out [in New Caledonia”.

“The victim remains to be approached by investigators in order to undergo medical examination and assess his current health condition.”

Schools will remain closed until at least “mid-June”.

The airport will remain closed to all commercial passenger flights until 02 June.