Suspect ‘prayed’ before knifing French soldier

Fears increased on Monday that the stabbing of a French soldier in Paris was an attempted copycat attack, inspired by the murder of a British soldier in London. The latest reports claim the suspect was seen 'praying' before the knife attack.

Suspect 'prayed' before knifing French soldier
23-year-old French soldier Cédric Cordier, who was stabbed in the neck while on anti-terrorist patrol at La Défense in Paris on Saturday May 25th. Photo: LCI Screengrab/François Guillot/AFP

Reports in the French media on Monday raised the likelihood that the stabbing of a uniformed French soldier in Paris on Saturday could have been inspired by last week’s hacking to death of a British soldier in London.

Sources for French daily Le Parisien have claimed that the suspect, who has still not been found since fleeing the scene of the attack at at the shopping and transport hub La Défense, was seen ‘praying’ in the train station, before stabbing the soldier in the neck.

The suspected knife wielder was captured on CCTV cameras before, during and after the attack.

So far, he is described as being a bearded, athletically-built man, 1.90 metres tall, who wore a black pullover, and not a djellaba (a traditional north-African robe) as was first reported in the press.

The 23-year-old soldier Cédric Cordier was stabbed in the neck from behind, by a man wielding what initial reports identified as a box-cutter, but was later confirmed to be a knife.

Cordier's partner, Amélie, told RTL radio on Sunday that the stab wound had come terrifyingly close to being lethal.

“It was just two centimetres away from his carotid artery,” she said.

Cordier was release from hospital on Monday morning.

Meanwhile, French president François Hollande told reporters accompanying him on a trip to Ethiopia: "We still do not know the exact circumstances of the attack or the identity of the attacker, but we are looking at all options."

"I do not think that at this stage a link can be made" to the attack in London on Wednesday, he said.

French interior minister Manuel Valls, however, said there were similarities, and that the knife attack, which left Cordier ‘traumatized’ but stable, ‘could have been a terrorist act.’

“Basically, there are components which could lead you to think we’re dealing with an act of terrorism,” Valls told France 5 TV on Sunday.

On Saturday Valls also said that the "sudden violence of the attack" in Paris was one of a few elements that suggested "there was a form of comparison to be made with what happened in London.

"Noting that the inquiry had “just begun,” the minister did, however, caution against “any lumping together or comparison" with the attack in Woolwich which saw  Lee Rigby hacked to death on a London street by two men wielding knives and a cleaver who then launched into a tirade against British military involvement in Muslim countries.

Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian visited the wounded man in hospital and later told reporters he had been targeted because he was a soldier.

Le Drian, who said the soldier was in a stable condition, vowed to continue France's "implacable" fight against terrorism.

The soldier, who was armed and in uniform, was patrolling as part of France's Vigipirate anti-terrorist alert system that sees troops deployed at high-profile tourist, business and transport sites across the capital.

The Vigipirate scheme was raised to "reinforced red" in January after jihadist rebels in Mali threatened to "strike at the heart of France."

On "red alert" before Saturday's attack at La Défense, authorities announced on Monday that they would not be raising Vigipirate to the highest level which is "crimson".

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Surgeon fined for trying to sell Paris terror attack victim’s x-ray

A Paris court on Wednesday convicted a surgeon for trying to sell an X-Ray image of a wounded arm of a woman who survived the 2015 terror attacks in the French capital.

Surgeon fined for trying to sell Paris terror attack victim's x-ray

Found guilty of violating medical secrecy, renowned orthopaedic surgeon Emmanuel Masmejean must pay the victim €5,000 or face two months in jail, judges ordered.

Masmejean, who works at the Georges-Pompidou hospital in western Paris, posted the image of a young woman’s forearm penetrated by a Kalashnikov bullet on marketplace Opensea in late 2021.

The site allows its roughly 20 million users to trade non-fungible tokens (NFTs) – certificates of ownership of an artwork that are stored on a “blockchain” similar to the technology used to secure cryptocurrencies.

In the file’s description, the surgeon wrote that the young woman he had operated on had “lost her boyfriend in the attack” on the Bataclan concert hall, the focus of the November 2015 gun and bomb assault in which jihadists killed 130 people.

The X-Ray image never sold for the asking price of $2,776, and was removed from Opensea after being revealed by investigative website Mediapart in January.

Masmejean claimed at a September court hearing that he had been carrying out an “experiment” by putting a “striking and historic medical image” online – while acknowledging that it had been “idiocy, a mistake, a blunder”.

The court did not find him guilty of two further charges of abuse of personal data and illegally revealing harmful personal information.

Nor was he barred from practicing as prosecutors had urged, with the lead judge saying it would be “disproportionate and inappropriate” to inflict such a “social death” on the doctor.

The victim’s lawyer Elodie Abraham complained of a “politically correct” judgement.

“It doesn’t bother anyone that there’s been such a flagrant breach of medical secrecy. It’s not a good message for doctors,” Abraham said.

Neither Masmejean, who has been suspended from his hospital job, nor the victim were present for Wednesday’s ruling.

The surgeon may yet face professional consequences after appearing before the French medical association in September, his lawyer Ivan Terel said.