French vegan faces terror charge over dead butcher comment


Foix (France) (AFP)

A French vegan activist was set to appear in court on Thursday for allegedly condoning terrorism after writing on social media that a butcher killed in an Islamist attack deserved his fate, a legal source told AFP.

The unusual case, being prosecuted under France's tough anti-terror security laws, was to be heard in the town of Saint-Gaudens in southwest France.

Police in the region spotted a message overnight on Monday-Tuesday related to the killing of a butcher at the Super U supermarket in Trebes last week during an attack by a gunman claiming allegiance to the Islamic State group, the source said.

"So then, you are shocked that a murderer is killed by a terrorist," wrote the vegan and activist for animal rights. "Not me. I've got zero compassion for him, there's some justice in it."

The message sparked instant criticism and complaints and the author later withdrew it, the legal source said, but prosecutors decided to press charges for condoning terrorism anyway.

The charge can be brought against anyone suspected of approving terrorism or commenting on it favourably. Doing so on the internet carries a maximum seven-year jail term and a fine of up to 100,000 euros ($125,000).

A left-wing French activist who had stood for parliament last June, Stephane Poussier, was handed a one-year suspended jail term on Tuesday over comments he posted on Twitter over the same attack.

The shooting spree by a Moroccan-born Frenchman last Friday around the towns of Carcassonne and Trebes left four people dead, including a local policeman who exchanged himself for a hostage but was then killed.

President Emmanuel Macron led tributes on Wednesday at a national commemoration for the officer, Arnaud Beltrame, a colonel in the local paramilitary police.

"Whenever a policeman is shot... I think of my friend Remi Fraisse," Poussier had written on Twitter, referring to an environmental activist killed by a stun grenade fired by police during a 2014 protest over a dam.

"And this time it was a colonel, great! Additionally, it means one less Macron voter," he added.