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TERRORISM

France sacks officials over ‘errors’ that saw Marseille killer walk free before attack

"Errors of judgement" allowed the man who stabbed two women to death in Marseille to walk free after being arrested days earlier, an official report on the killings has said.

France sacks officials over 'errors' that saw Marseille killer walk free before attack
AFP
French Interior Minister Gerard Collomb announced a major reshuffle of staff in the centre-east Rhone region where the Tunisian attacker was held for theft and then released.
   
A government source said the regional representative of central government, Henri-Michel Comet, would be replaced.
 
On October 1, Ahmed Hanachi, a 29-year-old Tunisian, fatally stabbed two young women at Marseille's Saint-Charles train station, before being shot dead by police.
 
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The Islamic State group's propaganda agency Amaq claimed the killer was one of its “soldiers”, though a source close to the investigation told AFP no solid evidence linked him to the group.
   
Two days before the attack Hanachi was arrested for shoplifting in the eastern city of Lyon but was allowed to walk free the following day.
   
The official report by the government's inspectorate general (IGA) did not name any individuals at fault over the case, but spoke of “errors of judgement” and “serious faults” in the system around dealing with foreigners whose papers are not in order.
   
Sources close to the probe have said that the Lyon official who had authority to sign a detention and deportation order had been absent when Hanachi was arrested and that there was a lack of space in the local jail.
   
The attacker — who had a history of petty crime but was not on a jihadist watch list — used seven aliases.
   
France's lower house of parliament last week overwhelmingly approved a new counter-terrorism law, making permanent several controversial measures under the state of emergency that has been in place for nearly two years.

TERRORISM

US vice president lays wreaths at site of 2015 Paris terror attacks

US Vice President Kamala Harris and French Prime Minister Jean Castex laid wreaths at a Paris cafe and France's national football stadium Saturday six years since deadly terror attacks that left 130 people dead.

US vice president lays wreaths at site of 2015 Paris terror attacks
US Vice President Kamala Harris and her husband Doug Emhoff lay flowers after ceremonies at Le Carillon bar and Le Petit Cambodge restaurant, at which 130 people were killed during the 2015 Paris terror attacks. Photo: Sarahbeth Maney/POOL/AFP

The attacks by three separate teams of Islamic State group jihadists on the night of November 13, 2015 were the worst in France since World War II.

Gunmen mowed down 129 people in front of cafes and at a concert hall in the capital, while a bus driver was killed after suicide bombers blew themselves up at the gates of the stadium in its suburbs.

Harris, wrapping up a four-day trip to France, placed a bouquet of white flowers in front of a plaque honouring the victims outside a Paris cafe.

Castex attended a minute of silence at the Stade de France football stadium, along with Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo, before laying wreaths at the sites of the other attacks inside Paris.

In front of the Bataclan concert hall, survivors and relatives of the victims listened to someone read out the names of each of the 90 people killed during a concert there six years ago.

Public commemorations of the tragedy were called off last year because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“Last year we weren’t allowed to come and we all found it really tough,” said Bruno Poncet, who made it out alive of the Bataclan.

But he said the start of a trial over the attacks in September meant that those attending the commemoration this year felt more united.

‘Overcome it all’

“We’ve really bonded thanks to the trial,” he said. “During previous commemorations, we’d spot each other from afar without really daring to speak to each other. We were really shy. But standing up in court has really changed everything.”

The marathon trial, the biggest in France’s modern legal history, is expected to last until May 2022.

Twenty defendants are facing sentences of up to life in prison, including the sole attacker who was not gunned down by police, Salah Abdeslam, a French-Moroccan national who was captured in Brussels. Six of the defendants are being tried in absentia.

Poncet said he felt it was crucial that he attend the hearings. “I can’t possibly not. It’s our lives that are being discussed in that room, and it’s important to come to support the others and to try to overcome it all.”

Survivors have taken to the witness stand to recount the horror of the attacks, but also to describe life afterwards.

Several said they had been struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder, grappling with survivor’s guilt, or even feeling alienated from the rest of society.

Saturday’s commemorations are to wrap up with a minute of silence at the Stade de France in the evening before the kick-off for a game between France and Kazakhstan.

It was during a football match between France and Germany that three suicide bombers blew themselves up in 2015.

Then-French president Francois Hollande was one of the 80,000 people in the crowd, before he was discreetly whisked away to avoid triggering mass panic.

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