What we know about the five suspects held in connection with Nice attack
Following revelations by Paris Prosecutor François Molins on Thursday that Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel had support in planning last week’s attack in Nice, FRANCE 24 takes a look at the five suspects being held in connection with the case.
The five suspects are believed to have provided Bouhlel with either material or logistical support in planning the Bastille Day rampage along Nice’s famed seafront Promenade des Anglais, which claimed the lives of 84 people.
Choukri C., 37
Choukri C., a Tunisian citizen living in France, was arrested on Sunday and put under formal investigation for “complicity in murder as part of an organised group in connection with a terrorist undertaking”, according to the Paris prosecutor’s office, which is in charge of the inquiry. He was identified riding in the truck with Bouhlel before the attack, and investigators have found traces of his DNA on the passenger-side door.
Born on July 11, 1979 in the northeastern Tunisian city of Sousse, Choukri C. has no previous criminal record. Yet investigators believe he may have obtained a number of weapons ahead of the attack based on text messages he exchanged with Bouhlel. The two men are said to have contacted each other 450 times via telephone.
On April 4, Choukri C. also sent Bouhlel an ominous Facebook message instructing him to “load up the truck, put 10,000 tonnes of iron in it, fuck up the brakes…”
Mohamed Oualid G., 40
Mohamed Oualid G., a Franco-Tunisian citizen born on February 19, 1976, was arrested on Friday and also placed under formal investigation for “complicity in murder as part of an organised group in connection with a terrorist undertaking”.
The 40-year-old, who has lived in Nice for several years, has been described as an old friend of Bouhlel’s. According to the Paris prosecutor’s office, the two men exchanged 1,278 phone calls between the years of 2015 and 2016.
Days before Bastille Day, Mohamed Oualid G. apparently took a photo of himself posing in the truck rented by Bouhlel. He is also reported to have filmed police on an abandoned Promenade des Anglais in the aftermath of the rampage, before turning the camera on himself.
During police questioning, Mohamed Oualid G. raised the possibility that Bouhlel – whom neighbours said did not attend the local mosque or talk of religion – may have been radicalised in a short amount of time.
Ramzi A., 21
Ramzi A., who was arrested on Saturday, is the youngest of the five suspects being held in connection with the attack. Born on November 28, 1994, Ramzi A. has had a troubled past. He was convicted six times between April 2013 and May 2015 for a string of petty crimes, including theft, assault and drug possession, according to prosecutors.
Just minutes before the attack, Ramzi A. received a text message from Bouhlel congratulating the young man on obtaining a “pistol” for him the day before. Bouhlel also mentioned getting “five” more weapons for his “friends”.
Investigators found €2,500 in cash at Ramzi A.’s home – which both his mother and his lawyer, Jean Pascal Padovani, have said was money from a government housing subsidy – as well as 200 grams of cocaine. Another search carried out at a separate location in connection with Ramzi A. on Wednesday turned up a Kalashnikov rifle. “We don’t yet know what it was to be used for,” Paris Prosecutor François Molins has said.
Ramzi A. was put under formal investigation for the “infraction of gun laws in connection with a terrorist undertaking”.
Artan H., 38, and Enkeledja Z., 42
Artan H., an Albanian national born on January 30, 1978, and his companion, Enkeledja Z., a Franco-Albanian citizen born on March 3, 1974, were both arrested on Sunday on suspicion of giving Bouhlel logistical support.
While being questioned, Ramzi A. identified Artan H. as the man who provided the 7.65mm pistol Bouhlel used in a shootout with police following his deadly rampage on the Promenade des Anglais.