Chechen accused in France beheading no longer had links with Russia, embassy says

WION Web Team Moscow, Russia Oct 17, 2020, 09.25 PM(IST)

France beheading Photograph:( AFP )

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It has also been reported that the teacher had been the target of online threats for having shown pupils cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed in class.

The 18-year-old Chechen accused of beheading a teacher near his school in a Paris suburb received asylum in France and had no links to Moscow, a Russian diplomat said.

"This crime has no relation to Russia because this person had lived in France for the past 12 years," the spokesman for the Russian embassy in Paris, Sergei Parinov, told state news agency TASS.

It has also been reported that the teacher had been the target of online threats for having shown pupils cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed in class.

The father of a schoolgirl had sought 47-year-old teacher Samuel Paty's dismissal and launched an online call for "mobilisation" against him after the lesson on freedom of expression, France's anti-terror prosecutor Jean-François Ricard said in a televised news conference.

Paty was decapitated outside his school in Conflans-Sainte-Honorine, northwest of the capital, and the killer was fatally wounded by police.

Ricard identified the attacker as Abdullakh A., an 18-year-old Chechen with refugee status in France.

Nine people, including the schoolgirl's father, have so far been arrested.

Ricard said the school received threats after the class in early October, which featured the controversial caricatures -- one of the prophet naked -- with the girl's father accusing Paty of disseminating "pornography". 

The girl and her father lodged a criminal complaint against the teacher, who in turn filed a complaint of defamation.

The aggrieved father named Paty and gave the school's address in a social media post just days before the beheading, which President Emmanuel Macron has labelled an Islamist terror attack.

Ricard did not say if the attacker had any links to the school, pupils or parents, or had acted independently in response to the online campaign.

Witnesses said he was spotted at the school on Friday afternoon asking pupils where he could find Paty.

The prosecutor said the attacker had been armed with a knife, an airgun and five canisters. He had fired shots at police and tried to stab them as they closed in on him. He was shot nine times.

The attacker himself was not known to the French intelligence services, said the prosecutor.

An investigation is under way into "murder linked to a terrorist organisation".

On Saturday, hundreds of pupils, teachers and parents flooded to Paty's school to weep and lay white roses.

Some carried placards stating: "I am a teacher" and "I am Samuel" -- echoing the "I am Charlie" cry that travelled around the world after the 2015 Charlie Hebdo killings.

According to parents and teachers, Paty gave Muslim children the option to leave the classroom before he showed the cartoons, saying he did not want their feelings hurt.

This was the second such attack since a trial started last month into the January 2015 massacre at the offices of the Charlie Hebdo satirical magazine, which had published caricatures of the prophet that unleashed a wave of anger across the Islamic world.

(with inputs from AFP)

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