Students helped killer find teacher who was beheaded, says French prosecutor

Jean-Francois Ricard said a 14-year-old and a 15-year-old are among seven people accused of complicity in murder.

Students helped killer find teacher who was beheaded, says French prosecutor

The 18-year-old suspected killer of a French teacher who showed caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad in class paid students to help him identify the victim, France’s terrorism prosecutor has said.

Prosecutor Jean-Francois Ricard said a 14-year-old and a 15-year-old are among seven people who appeared before an investigating magistrate on accusations of complicity in murder in relation with a terrorist undertaking, and criminal conspiracy.

The suspect in Friday’s killing of teacher Samuel Paty, who was attacked and beheaded near Paris, offered students at the school 300 to 350 euros (£267 to £311) to help him pick out, Mr Ricard said during a news conference on Wednesday.

France Teacher Decapitated
People hold a photo of teacher Samuel Paty during a memorial march (Lewis Joly/AP)

“That identification has only been possible with the help of students from the same school.

“That’s why the anti-terrorism prosecutor’s office has decided to prosecute two under-18 minors whose implication in the identification of the victim for the killer has appeared to be conclusive.”

A terror investigation is under way into Mr Paty’s killing.

Authorities have identified the killer as Abdoullakh Anzorov, an 18-year-old Moscow-born Chechen refugee who was later shot dead by police.

The teenager claimed responsibility in a text accompanied by a photograph of the victim that were found on his phone.

The other suspects include a student’s father who posted videos on social media that called for mobilisation against the teacher and an Islamist activist who helped the man disseminate the virulent messages, which named Paty and gave the school’s address, Mr Ricard said.

Two more men, aged 18 and 19, are accused of having helped the attacker by accompanying him when he bought weapons including a knife and an airsoft gun, that were found near Anzorov’s body, according to the prosecutor.

One of them allegedly drove Anzorov, who lived in the Normandy town of Evreux, to near the school about three hours before the killing.

Another 18-year-old suspect had close contacts with the attacker and endorsed radical Islamism, Mr Ricard said.

Al three of them, who were friends of Anzorov, allegedly said “he was ‘radicalizing’ for several months, marked by a change of behaviour, physical appearance, isolation, an assiduous frequentation of the mosque and ambiguous remarks about Jihad and the Islamic State group”.

France Teacher Decapitated
Residents applaud after observing a minute of silence for Samuel Paty in Saint-Jean-de-Luz (Bob Edme/AP)

Government spokesman Gabriel Attal said it was “implicated, linked to Friday’s attack” and was used to promote anti-republican hate speech.

Other groups will be dissolved “in the coming weeks” for similar reasons, Mr Attal said.

Named after an assassinated leader of the Palestinian Hamas, Collective Cheikh Yassine was founded in the early 2000s by an Islamist activist who is among the seven people accused of being accomplices to the attacker.

Mr Attal also confirmed the government ordered a mosque in the north-east Paris suburb of Pantin to close for six months.

It is being punished for relaying the angry father’s message on social media.

Authorities say it has long had an imam following the Salafist path, a rigorous interpretation of the Muslim holy book.

A national memorial event is scheduled to be held Wednesday evening in the courtyard of the Sorbonne university.

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