The verdict in Rennes, western France, came after both the public prosecutor and the defence called for them to be let off.

Some have expressed concerns an acquittal for the pair might spark violent protests like those seen recently in America.

Sebastien Gaillemin, 41, and Stephanie Klein, 38, were acquitted of “non-assistance to individuals in danger” by failing to raise the alarm after the two Muslim youths – Bouna Traore, 15, and Zyed Benna, 17 – took cover in an electricity substation after a police chase in Clichy-sous-Bois, northeast of Paris.

A third boy, Muhittin Altun, now 27, survived the 20,000-volt electric shock with severe burns.

After the verdict, family members expressed their anger at the result.

“Shame on justice. There is no justice on this Earth”, said Ziyed’s brother, Adel Benna. “I am disgusted, disappointed. The police are untouchable. They are never convicted.”

Samir Mihi, from Clichy-sous-Bois residents’ association Au-delà des Mots, said: “I heard earlier someone say: ‘Zyed and Bouna died for nothing.’ I sincerely hope not. But we will have to break yet more bad news for our suburb.”

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