Annecy stabbing suspect charged with attempted murder

People gather to lay flowers for the victims of the stabbing attack in Annecy, France - OLIVIER CHASSIGNOLE/AFP

People gather to lay flowers for the victims of the stabbing attack in Annecy, France – OLIVIER CHASSIGNOLE/AFP

The Syrian refugee suspected of stabbing six people including four young children in the French town of Annecy has been charged with “attempted murder”, prosecutors announced on Saturday.

The suspect, named Abdalmasih H, “did not wish to speak” during his 48 hours in police custody or before the magistrates in charge of the investigation, indicated the public prosecutor Line Bonnet-Mathis during a press conference, adding that the victims were no longer on high alert. life-threatening condition.

The children, aged 22 months to three years, remain hospitalized.

The six victims came from four different countries: Great Britain, France, the Netherlands and Portugal.

The suspect, a 31-year-old Syrian political refugee with permanent resident status in Sweden, has a three-year-old daughter and a wife living in Sweden, the prosecutor said.

He was examined by psychiatrists who deemed him fit to face charges, the prosecutor said. She said the motive for the savage attack remained unclear, but did not appear to be terrorism-related.

Witnesses said they heard the attacker mention his daughter, his wife and Jesus Christ, according to the prosecutor, who said he had Christian items with him at the time of the attack.

Police arrested the suspect in the lakeside park in the city of Annecy after bystanders – including a Catholic pilgrim who repeatedly hit the attacker with his backpack – sought to deter him.

Emmanuel Macron, the French president, visited the victims and their families on Friday.

Mr Macron said two young French cousins ​​who were most seriously injured have stabilized and doctors were “very confident”.

The injured British girl “is awake, she is watching television”, added Mr Macron. An injured Dutch woman has also improved and a seriously injured adult – who was both stabbed and injured by a gunshot fired by police while detaining the suspected attacker – is regaining consciousness, Mr Macron said .

The seriously injured adult was treated in Annecy. The Portuguese Foreign Ministry said he was Portuguese and “now out of danger”. He was injured “trying to prevent the attacker from fleeing the police”, he added. The second injured adult was discharged from hospital with a bandage on his left elbow.

The pilgrim, Henri, a 24-year-old on a nine-month walking and hitchhiking tour of cathedrals in France, said he had gone to another abbey when the horror unfolded before him . The assailant punched him, but Henri held his ground and used a heavy backpack he was carrying to swing towards the assailant.

Henri’s father says that his son “told me that the Syrian was incoherent, saying lots of strange things in different languages, invoking his father, his mother, all the gods”.

The suspect’s profile has fueled fresh criticism of France’s migration policies. The suspect entered France legally, as he has permanent resident status in Sweden. Both Sweden and France are members of the EU and Europe’s borderless travel zone.

He applied for asylum in France last year and was refused a few days before the attack, on the grounds that he had already obtained asylum in Sweden in 2013, said the French interior minister .

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