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France

Armed man arrested at Disneyland Paris avoids jail

© Bertrand Guay / AFP | French police officers stand guard after a man carrying two handguns was arrested on January 28, 2016 at a hotel in Disneyland Paris.

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2016-02-03

A man who tried to take two handguns into a hotel at the Disneyland amusement park in Paris was sentenced Tuesday by a court to six months wearing an electronic tag for arms possession, after investigators decided not to press terrorism charges.

The 28-year-old restaurant worker from Paris attempted to enter the high-end Hotel New York at the theme park on the afternoon of January 28 when the bag he was carrying set off the hotel’s metal detectors.

A search of the bag revealed it contained two guns, one an automatic handgun, along with ammunition and a copy of the Koran.

With France still on high alert following the November 13 attacks in Paris, the incident sparked fears the man had been planning a terror assault on the major tourist destination.

But investigators quickly ruled out terrorism as a motive, with police sources at the time revealing that the man had said he was carrying the guns because he feared for his safety.

‘Not been thinking’

The man, a long-time convert to Islam, appeared sheepish Tuesday as he told the court in Meaux, just east of Paris, that he “had not been thinking” when he brought the guns to the amusement park.

He said he had bought the first weapon to “defend himself” after being the victim of an assault and the second after the November attacks “in order to be prepared” if a similar event happened again.

Described as "a boy with a big heart" by his girlfriend, the man told the court that he had not wanted to leave the guns at home or the restaurant where he works when he visited Disneyland, where he planned to spend a few days with his partner.

The man faced a possible sentence of up to five years in prison and a 75,000-euro fine for possessing and transporting firearms, while the prosecution had asked for a 15-month jail term.

The man’s lawyer said the court was “wise” in handing him a lighter sentence.

“They understood that the mixing together of terrorism and the Koran had no place in this case,” he said.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)

Date created : 2016-02-03

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