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What Paris teen pranksters risk after false terror alarm
Photo: AFP

What Paris teen pranksters risk after false terror alarm

The Local · 20 Sep 2016, 16:05

Published: 20 Sep 2016 11:43 GMT+02:00
Updated: 20 Sep 2016 16:05 GMT+02:00

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Three teens have been arrested on the suspicion of causing panic in Paris on Saturday by reporting a false attack. 
It's understood they hacked the telephone line of the Saint-Leu church in the first arrondissement, telling police there was an ongoing hostage situation inside. 
A 16-year-old boy was arrested on Monday, while his two suspected accomplices, 14 and 17, were arrested on Tuesday. 

One of them has since confessed, reported BFM TV. 
They risk up to two years in prison and a fine of up to €30,000 on charges of reporting an imaginary crime. 
But on top of this, the trio face the wrath of the French government.
A statement from Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said the government would seek compensation as a civil party, essentially meaning it plans to charge the three for dispatching police for no reason.  
"With France confronted by a highly elevated terror threat, it is intolerable to sow the seed of anxiety among people and to force the mobilization of significant resources in vain," he said. 
He added that there was no reason taxpayers should have to cough up for the "unnecessary expenditure of public funds".
It remains unknown what this could mean in terms of a tangible fine for the boys, if they are found guilty, but police are not trying to put together the bill of sending out 100 officers, not to mention the dispatch of the elite counter-terrorist unit trained to intervene in hostage situations.
Cazeneuve's move looks set to have costly ramifications for the teenagers if other similar cases are anything to go by. Indeed, a woman was fined €82,000 in damages last week after calling in a fake bomb threat to an airport in Geneva. 
And there is a good chance the judges won't be lenient on the Paris teens, not least after a teen claiming to be behind the prank bragged about it to the French media just days later. 
“We did not think it would work. We just did it for the thrill and to become known,” a person claiming to be behind the hoax told BFM TV.
Fake Paris terror alert: 'We did it for the thrill' say teenagers
“If people panic then that’s their fault.”
Story continues below…
It remains unknown at this point if the boys arrested this week are the same teens who spoke to the media. 
But even so, the court may want to make an example of them in the hopes of deterring others from doing the same. 
Saturday's hoax in Paris forced the central part of the city to go into lock-down and caused hundreds of shoppers to flee in panic.
The government even issued an alert on its smartphone app designed to warn the public of a terror attack telling them to avoid central Paris and seek shelter.
And with France on high alert after a string of terror attacks, it’s perhaps no surprise the police reacted in the way they did.

The brutal murder of a priest in a church near Rouen by two jihadists in June forced authorities to boost security at churches across the country amid fears more places of Christian worship could be targeted.

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