A man is facing preliminary charges of manslaughter over the death of anti-fascist protester Clement Meric last week.

Clement Meric, an 18-year-old student at Sciences Po in Paris, was violently attacked by a group of three skinheads, including one woman, near Saint-Lazare train station on Wednesday evening.

He was reportedly struck with a knuckle-duster and his head hit the ground as he fell, police say. The teenager was placed on life support but was declared brain dead and died on Thursday.

The suspect, identified only as security guard, Esteban, faced charges of “deadly blows”, which amounts to violence leading to death without intention to kill, after an investigating judge rejected calls from prosecutor Francois Molins to pursue a murder investigation.

If convicted, Esteban faces up to 15 years in prison. He also faces charges of group violence, alongside three other men over the fight which led to Meric’s death.

Whlst being questioned, “the one named Esteban acknowledged to police that he had struck Clement Meric twice — bare-fisted, he claimed — including the blow that caused him to fall to the ground,” said Molins.

“A friend of Clement Meric said he saw [Esteban] with brass knuckles, while another witness of the scene referred to a ‘shiny object’ in his hands.”

A police sweep of Esteban’s house found two sets of brass knuckles, although it was not immediately clear if they had been used in the fight.

A fifth suspect, a 32-year-old woman named Katya, was handed preliminary charges for complicity in group violence, reports the Associated Press.

Mollins noted that the group had links to “Troisieme Voie” — or Third Way, an ultranationalist group, but none of them had any prior convictions.

Protesters took to the streets of Paris to honour Meric, chanting “we don’t forgive, we don’t forget” and holding a banner which read “forever in our memories, forever in our hearts.”

According to reports, France’s Socialist Government also took the first steps towards banning Troisieme Voie.