Teacher's killer paid students to identify him, French prosecutor says

French anti-terrorist public prosecutor Jean-François Ricard, during a news conference in Paris, on October 21, 2020.
French anti-terrorist public prosecutor Jean-François Ricard, during a news conference in Paris, on October 21, 2020. © FRANCE 24 screengrab

The 18-year-old Chechen who beheaded a French teacher for showing caricatures of the Prophet Mohammad in a civics class paid students in front of the school to identify him, anti-terrorism public prosecutor Jean-François Ricard told reporters at a news conference on Tuesday in which he unveiled details of the investigation.


Pupils at a school near Paris had pointed out the history teacher beheaded last week to his killer in return for €300 to €350, France's anti-terror prosecutor said Wednesday.

French teacher Samuel Paty had been the subject of an online hate campaign after showing pupils cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad during a civics class and the killer knew Paty’s name and location of his school after the campaign on social media, Ricard said. But the killer had no way of identifying him at the school gates.

"This identification was only possible with the help of students from the school. They identified him in exchange for payment," Ricard told a news conference. The killer, Abdullakh Anzorov, gave part of the sum to a pupil outside the school, asking him to identify the teacher, prosecutor Jean-François Ricard told a news briefing.

A total of seven people, including two minors, were handed over to a judge overnight as part of an ongoing investigation into last week's murder of French teacher Samuel Paty.

Two of the pupils paid by the assailant, aged 14 and 15, were among those presented to the judge, as was Islamist militant Abdelhakim Sefrioui from the Cheikh Yassine Collective.

Paty was beheaded last Friday in broad daylight outside his school in the middle-class Paris suburb of Conflans-Sainte-Honorine by a man of Chechen origin. Police shot the attacker dead.

Investigators say the teenager had sought to avenge his victim's use of caricatures of the Prophet Mohammad in a class on freedom of expression, as any depiction of the Prophet is blasphemous, according to Islam.

The killer told the teenagers he was planning to "humiliate and strike" the teacher, and force him to apologise for showing the cartoons.

A school parent who had posted a video accusing the teacher of using the caricatures in class is also among the seven who have been presented to the judge.

Richard Ferrand, speaker of the lower house of parliament and a former teacher, told French network BFM that parents should "stay out of schools and leave teachers alone. One must hand back full authority to the teachers".

The murder shocked France, and carried echoes of the attack five years ago on the offices of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, after the publication had also published cartoons of Mohammad. Public figures called Paty's killing an attack on the Republic and on French values.

French regional newspaper La Nouvelle République has received threats on social media after it published a caricature of the Prophet Mohammad on its front page, one of its journalists said on Wednesday.

A national tribute in honour of Paty was held at the Sorbonne university in Paris on Wednesday evening.


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