Third of known French radicals are mentally disturbed

Nearly a third of people on a French terror watchlist are believed to have psychiatric disorders, Interior Minister Gerard Collomb said Tuesday, a day after a mentally ill man went on a rampage in a stolen van in Marseille.

Third of known French radicals are mentally disturbed
The incident, in which the man drove into two bus shelters, killing one person and seriously injuring another, immediately drew comparisons with a string of attacks across Europe in which vehicles have been used as killing machines.
But investigators said there was no evidence of any terror links, saying the 35-year-old French driver who had a book about philosophy and another about Islam in the car, had “psychological” problems.

One killed in car-ramming at Marseille bus stop, French policeFrench forensic police search the site following the car-ramming incident in Marseille. AFP

The attack is one of a handful in the past month in France in which men suffering from mental illnesses have apparently mimicked jihadist assaults.
Collomb said that of the around 17,400 people flagged by the intelligence services as radicals one third were believed to be mentally ill.
The minister said he would enlist the help of psychiatric hospitals in identifying patients who represented a potential threat.
“The medical secret is sacred of course but at the same time we must find a way to avoid a certain number of individuals suffering from serious disorders carrying out attacks,” he told BFMTV news channel.
Terrorism experts have long warned that the intense media coverage of jihadist violence could spur copycat attacks by mentally unstable individuals with a propensity for violence.
Citing the case of the Marseille driver, who had several convictions for violence and robbery, Collomb said: “It's not terrorism… but it is imitation”.
On August 6, a knife-wielding 18-year-old on leave from a psychiatric hospital was arrested at the Eiffel Tower after bursting past security shouting “Allahu Akbar” (God is Greatest).
The man said during questioning that he had wanted to kill a soldier.
A week later, a 32-year-old man rammed his car into a pizzeria near Paris, killing a 13-year-old girl and injuring 13 people.
The man, who had taken large quantities of medication, told the police he wanted to commit suicide.
Collomb did not say how the authorities assessed the mental health of individuals on the watchlist.


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.