Seven people brought before a judge over beheading of French teacher

Police officers guard the Bois d'Aulne secondary school, where flowers and messages have been left in homage to the history teacher Samuel Paty, who was beheaded by an attacker for showing pupils cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed in his civics class, on October 19, 2020,
Police officers guard the Bois d'Aulne secondary school, where flowers and messages have been left in homage to the history teacher Samuel Paty, who was beheaded by an attacker for showing pupils cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed in his civics class, on October 19, 2020, © Anne-Christine Poujoulat, AFP

Seven people, including two minors, were handed over to a judge overnight for the opening of a judicial investigation and possible indictments in last week's murder of French teacher Samuel Paty, an official from the anti-terrorist prosecutor's office said.

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Samuel Paty was beheaded on October 16 in broad daylight outside his school in a middle-class Paris suburb by an 18-year-old 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 Mohammed in a class on freedom of expression. Muslims believe that any depiction of the Prophet is blasphemous.

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

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

Prosecutors have said the attacker had approached pupils outside the school asked them to identify Paty as he left for home.

Two of those pupils were among those presented to the judge, as was Islamist militant Abdelhakim Sefrioui from the Cheikh Yassine Collective, whose closure could be decided later in the day by the French cabinet.

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

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

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

(FRANCE 24 with AFP and REUTERS)

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