'Paris shooter' Dekhar was already infamous in France
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Abdelhakim Dekhar, the gunman behind the series of shootings that terrorised Paris this week, is the same man who helped a young couple go on a “Bonnie and Clyde” style shooting spree in 1994.
Abdelhakim Dekhar, who sparked a three-day manhunt after staging a series of shootings across Paris this week, is well known to the French police and his arrest is the latest twist in a tale that spans two decades.
In 1998 he was jailed for four years for helping a young couple who became known as the French “Bonnie and Clyde”.
Known as “Toumi’ among his radical peers, Dekhar met Audry Maupin and Florence Rey through anarchist-revolutionary friends.
A killing spree
In 1994, Maupin, then 22, and Rey, 19, set out to steal guns from two police officers. Dekhar was accused of being their lookout.
The pair failed to steal any weapons. They instead sprayed the officers with tear gas and ran off. Dekhar gave the couple his shotgun and fled the scene.
Maupin and Rey hijacked a taxi and made for central Paris, threatening to kill the driver and the passenger if they caused any trouble.
Once in the city centre, the panicked taxi driver rammed into the back of a police car to get the officers' attention.
When confronted by the police, Maupin and Rey killed two officers and the taxi driver, then carjacked a passing motorist, ordering him to drive them east to a vast park on the edge of the city.
On the way, Maupin shot and killed another police officer who was riding a motorbike.
But on reaching the park, the car hit a police roadblock. Officers fired at the car, shooting Maupin who died in Rey’s arms. According to police reports, she kissed him on the mouth before being led away.
Rey fired 12 shots during the episode and killed one person, a police officer she claimed was already dying.
Dubbed “cop-killer” by the media, in court she came across like a confused teenager desperate to impress her increasingly radical boyfriend.
But witnesses said Rey had played a leading role in the shootings, ordering Maupin to “plug” the police officers. She was jailed for 20 years.
Dekhar denied any involvement whatsoever, claiming that he had never even met Maupin or Rey.
He claimed he had been hired by the Algerian secret services to infiltrate the French far-left.
Witnesses at the 1998 trial told a very different story, describing Dekhar as the couple’s “mentor”.
Dekhar the ‘third man’
One of the witnesses, a radical film-maker who knew the couple, said Dekhar was entirely to blame for pushing Maupin over the edge. Rey also described him as the “third man” in the affair.
Along with Rey, Dekhar became a household name in France in a story that gripped the nation for years.
Yet despite his involvement in such a high-profile case, almost nothing is known about Dekhar.
One of his lawyers, Raphaël Constant, described Dekhar in 1998 as a “not very socially-adjusted young man” who was convinced he had been “trained” by his uncle who he claimed was head of the Algerian secret services.
Convicted of supplying the pair with a gun, he was also accused of pushing the pair towards violence through his radical far-left politics.
Dekhar, who is now in police custody again, was found by police in an underground car park north of Paris on Wednesday evening. He appears to have attempted suicide before his arrest.
A police source on Thursday told FRANCE 24 that officers had found a “rambling” letter on the car seat next to him, in which he complained about social problems in France and the wars in Syria and Libya.
The letter demonstrated a “clear lack of mental coherence”, the source said.