Paris knife attack suspect to face charges in anti-terrorist court

DEC 6, 2023 LISTEN

A man suspected of stabbing a tourist to death near the Eiffel Tower is due to appear before a French judge this Wednesday with a view to being charged with carrying out a terrorist attack.

Last Saturday's attack came as France is at its highest alert level against the background of the war between Israel and Palestinian militant group Hamas and following a series of isolated attacks in the country.

The incident has increased security concerns in the run-up to the Paris Olympic Games this summer.

The case is being handled by French anti-terrorist prosecutors who have opened an investigation into a "terrorist" plot.

Allegiance to Islamic State

Armand Rajabpour-Miyandoab, a French national born in 1997 to Iranian parents, is a known Islamist radical who has sworn allegiance to the Islamic State armed group and was under psychological surveillance for mental health issues.

He was arrested over killing a 23-year-old man, identified as a German-Filipino citizen, with two blows from a hammer and four from a knife, as well as wounding two others.

Wednesday afternoon, Rajabpour-Miyandoab will appear before the investigating magistrate who is then expected to formally charge him ahead of trial.

He reportedly told investigators he acted "in reaction to the persecution of Muslims around the world" and has been described as "very cold" during questioning.

He said he picked the Eiffel Tower as "he could not bear it being lit up in the colours of the Israeli flag", the source said, after attacks by Hamas in Israel on 7 October that killed 1,200 people, mostly civilians, according to Israeli authorities, and saw some 240 hostages taken.

'Psychiatric failure'

Israeli bombardment has since killed more than 16,000 people in Gaza, most of them women and children, the Hamas-run government there says.

According to prosecutors, Rajabpour-Miyandoab, whose family is not religious, converted to Islam at 18 and began consuming huge amounts of IS propaganda.

He had previously been sentenced to five years in prison in 2016 for planning an attack, before he was released in 2020.

France's Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said on Monday that there had been a "psychiatric failure" in his case, as "doctors said on several occasions that he was doing better".

His mother had reported concerns about him as recently as October, but that there was insufficient proof at the time to take legal action.

Meanwhile, police say they have released one of Rajabpour-Miyandoab's relatives who had been in custody for questioning.