Monday 26 September 2016

'Handsome but frightening', Nice Bastille Day truck driver 'was married with three children'

* Tunisian-born driver not known to intelligence services
* Handed six-month suspended sentence for road rage incident
* Had three children, separated from his wife

Lara Sukhtian and Tarek Amara

Published 15/07/2016 | 14:06

Members of the Australian French community reacts during a minute of silence during a vigil in central Sydney, Australia, July 15, 2016 to remember the victims of the Bastille Day truck attack in Nice. REUTERS/David Gray
Members of the Australian French community reacts during a minute of silence during a vigil in central Sydney, Australia, July 15, 2016 to remember the victims of the Bastille Day truck attack in Nice. REUTERS/David Gray
A Republican Guard pays respects after lowering the French national flag at half-mast at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France, July 15, 2016, the day after the Bastille Day truck attack in Nice. REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer
Police officers work near the truck that mowed through revelers in Nice, southern France, Friday, July 15, 2016 (AP Photo/Francois Mori)
Flowers are seen attached to a fence to remember the victims of the Bastille Day truck attack in Nice in front of the French embassy in Rome, Italy, July 15, 2016. REUTERS/Max Rossi TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Flags fly at half-mast to pay tribute to victims the day after a truck ran into a crowd at high speed killing scores and injuring more who were celebrating the Bastille Day national holiday, in Nice, France, July 15, 2016. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard
A man reacts by flowers left in tribute to the victims near the scene where a truck ran into a crowd at high speed killing scores and injuring more who were celebrating the Bastille Day national holiday, in Nice, in Nice, July 15, 2016. REUTERS/Jean-Pierre Amet
People gather near flowers left in tribute to the victims the day after a truck ran into a crowd at high speed killing scores and injuring more who were celebrating the Bastille Day national holiday, in Nice, in Nice, July 15, 2016. REUTERS/Jean-Pierre Amet
People stand near a makeshift memorial for the victims killed in an attack where a truck mowed through revelers in Nice, southern France (AP Photo/Laurent Cipriani)
A woman reacts by flowers left in tribute to the victims the day after a truck ran into a crowd at high speed killing scores and injuring more who were celebrating the Bastille Day national holiday, in Nice, in Nice, July 15, 2016. REUTERS/Jean-Pierre Amet
A life-size copy of renown Michelangelo Buonarroti's David is diplayed supine, as a tribute to the victims of Nice attack, after a ceremony at Repubblica square in Florence, Italy (Maurizio Degl'Innocenti/ANSA Via AP)
A woman sits next to a baby stroller as people gather on the Promenade des Anglais to pay tribute to the victims the day after a truck ran into a crowd at high speed killing scores and injuring more who were celebrating the Bastille Day national holiday in Nice, France, July 15, 2016. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard
People gather near flowers and candles left in tribute to victims the day after a truck ran into a crowd at high speed killing scores and injuring more on the Promenade des Anglais who were celebrating the Bastille Day national holiday, in Nice, in Nice, July 15, 2016. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard
A life-size copy of renown Michelangelo Buonarroti's David is diplayed supine, as a tribute to the victims of Nice attack, during a ceremony at Repubblica square in Florence, Italy (Maurizio Degl'Innocenti/ANSA Via AP)
People stand in front of the Rome's city hall, "Campidoglio" (Capitoline Hill) lit up in blue, white and red, the colors of the French flag, in tribute to the attack victims of Nice, in Rome, Italy, July 15, 2016. REUTERS/Tony Gentile
People gather to leave flowers in tribute to victims the day after a truck ran into a crowd at high speed killing scores and injuring more on the Promenade des Anglais who were celebrating the Bastille Day national holiday, in Nice, France, July 15, 2016. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard
An Israel woman takes a picture of the Tel Aviv city hall as it is lit up in the colors of the French flag in tribute to the attack victims of Nice, in Tel Aviv, Israel July 15, 2016. REUTERS/Baz Ratner
A Republican Guard pays respects after lowering the French national flag at half-mast at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France, July 15, 2016, the day after the Bastille Day truck attack in Nice. REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer
A man reacts near bouquets of flowers near the scene where a truck ran into a crowd at high speed killing scores and injuring more who were celebrating the Bastille Day national holiday, in Nice, France, July 15, 2016. REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol
Members of the Australian French community cry as they sing the French national anthem during a vigil in central Sydney, Australia, July 15, 2016 to remember the victims of the Bastille Day truck attack in Nice. REUTERS/David Gray
Members of the Australian French community cry as they sing the French national anthem during a vigil in central Sydney, Australia, July 15, 2016 to remember the victims of the Bastille Day truck attack in Nice. REUTERS/David Gray
Sylvie Bermann, France's Ambassador to the UK, speaks to the media outside the French Embassy in London, following the death of at least 84 people Hannah McKay/PA Wire
Armed soldiers patrol along the beach in Nice, France, July 15, 2016 the day after a truck ran into a crowd at high speed killing scores and injuring more who were celebrating the Bastille Day national holiday. REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol
People place candles in a circle during a vigil in a tribute to the victims of the Bastille Day tragedy, in Sydney, Australia, Friday, July 15, 2016. (AP Photo/Rob Griffith)
A woman places a candle during a vigil to honor victims of the Bastille Day tragedy in Nice, France, in Sydney, Australia, Friday, July 15, 2016. (AP Photo/Rob Griffith)
Members of the Australian French community place candles during a vigil in central Sydney, Australia, July 15, 2016, to remember the victims of the Bastille Day truck attack in Nice. REUTERS/David Gray
People place flowers to pay tribute to the victims of the Bastille Day truck attack in Nice, in front of the French embassy in Kiev, Ukraine, July 15, 2016. REUTERS/Gleb Garanich
Investigators continue to work at the scene near the heavy truck that ran into a crowd at high speed killing scores who were celebrating the Bastille Day July 14 national holiday on the Promenade des Anglais in Nice, France, July 15, 2016. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard
A woman places flowers to pay tribute to the victims of the Bastille Day truck attack in Nice, in front of the French embassy in Kiev, Ukraine, July 15, 2016. REUTERS/Gleb Garanich
A woman places flowers to pay tribute to the victims of the Bastille Day truck attack in Nice, in front of the French embassy in Kiev, Ukraine, July 15, 2016. REUTERS/Gleb Garanich
A man places flowers to pay tribute to the victims of the Bastille Day truck attack in Nice, in front of the French embassy in Kiev, Ukraine, July 15, 2016. REUTERS/Gleb Garanich
Members of the Australian French community stand around candles during a vigil in central Sydney, Australia, July 15, 2016, to remember the victims of the Bastille Day truck attack in Nice. REUTERS/David Gray
French Ambassador to Japan Thierry Dana (C) delivers a speech as French residents in Japan gather to mourn victims of the Bastille Day truck attack in Nice, at the official residence for the ambassador in Tokyo, Japan, July 15, 2016. REUTERS/Issei Kato
A French gendarme craft patrols along the coast in Nice, France July 15, 2016 the day after a truck ran into a crowd at high speed killing scores and injuring more who were celebrating the Bastille Day national holiday. REUTERS/Jean-Pierre Amet
French residents in Japan and French embassy staff gather to take a moment of silence to pay tribute to the victims of the Bastille Day truck attack in Nice, at the official residence for the French ambassador to Japan in Tokyo, Japan, July 15, 2016. REUTERS/Issei Kato
French residents in Japan gather to mourn victims of the Bastille Day truck attack in Nice, at the official residence for the French ambassador to Japan in Tokyo, Japan, July 15, 2016. REUTERS/Issei Kato
French residents in Japan and French embassy staff gather to take a moment of silence to pay tribute to the victims of the Bastille Day truck attack in Nice, at the official residence for the French ambassador to Japan in Tokyo, Japan, July 15, 2016. REUTERS/Issei Kato
Armed French police secure the entrance to the Pasteur Hospital the day after a truck ran into a crowd at high speed killing scores and injuring more who were celebrating the Bastille Day national holiday in Nice, France, July 15, 2016. REUTERS/Jean-Pierre Amet
French police secure the area as the investigation continues at the scene near the heavy truck that ran into a crowd at high speed killing scores who were celebrating the Bastille Day July 14 national holiday on the Promenade des Anglais in Nice, France, July 15, 2016. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard
Handout photo taken with permission from the twitter feed of Cheshire East Council (@CheshireEast) of Councillor Peter Groves with the French flag which will be flown at half-mast todayCheshire East Council/PA Wire
French police secure the area as the investigation continues at the scene near the heavy truck that ran into a crowd at high speed killing scores who were celebrating the Bastille Day July 14 national holiday on the Promenade des Anglais in Nice, France, July 15, 2016. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard
French President Francois Hollande leaves the Elysee Palace in Paris, France, July 15, 2016, after attending an emergency defence meeting the day after the Bastille Day truck attack in Nice. REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer
French President Francois Hollande leaves the Elysee Palace in Paris, France, July 15, 2016, after attending an emergency defence meeting the day after the Bastille Day truck attack in Nice. REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer
A woman places a candle during a vigil to honor victims of the Bastille Day tragedy in Nice, France. (AP Photo/Rob Griffith)

Described by his neighbours as a handsome but frightening man, Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel, who killed at least 84 people in the French city of Nice by driving his truck into a crowd late on Thursday, was convicted only once before: for road rage.

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Bouhlel ploughed a truck into crowds celebrating Bastille Day on the French Riviera, in what President Francois Hollande called a terrorist act by an enemy determined to strike all nations that share France's values.

While he had several run-ins with the law previously, Bouhlel, a 31-year-old Nice resident born in Tunisia, was not on a watch list of French intelligence services as a suspected militant.

He was convicted for the first time in March this year, French Justice Minister Jean-Jacques Urvoas said.

Police officers stand near a van, with its windscreen riddled with bullets, that ploughed into a crowd leaving a fireworks display in the French Riviera town of Nice on July 14, 2016.
AFP PHOTO / VALERY HACHEVALERY HACHE/AFP/Getty Images
Police officers stand near a van, with its windscreen riddled with bullets, that ploughed into a crowd leaving a fireworks display in the French Riviera town of Nice on July 14, 2016. AFP PHOTO / VALERY HACHEVALERY HACHE/AFP/Getty Images
Police officers and rescued workers stand near a van that ploughed into a crowd leaving a fireworks display in the French Riviera town of Nice on July 14, 2016. AFP PHOTO / VALERY HACHEVALERY HACHE/AFP/Getty Images
Police officers and rescue workers arrive at the scene of an attack on July 14, 2016, after a van ploughed into a crowd leaving a fireworks display in the French Riviera town of Nice. AFP PHOTO / VALERY HACHEVALERY HACHE/AFP/Getty Images
Police officers stand near a van, with its windscreen riddled with bullets, that ploughed into a crowd leaving a fireworks display in the French Riviera town of Nice on July 14, 2016. AFP PHOTO / VALERY HACHEVALERY HACHE/AFP/Getty Images
Police officers speak with a soldier after a van that ploughed into a crowd leaving a fireworks display in the French Riviera town of Nice on July 14, 2016. AFP PHOTO / VALERY HACHEVALERY HACHE/AFP/Getty Images
Police officers stand near a van that ploughed into a crowd leaving a fireworks display in the French Riviera town of Nice on July 14, 2016. AFP PHOTO / VALERY HACHEVALERY HACHE/AFP/Getty Images
Police officers and firefighters arrive near the site of an attack on July 14, 2016, after a van ploughed into a crowd leaving a fireworks display in the French Riviera town of Nice. AFP PHOTO / VALERY HACHEVALERY HACHE/AFP/Getty Images
Police officers stand near a van, with its windscreen riddled with bullets, that ploughed into a crowd leaving a fireworks display in the French Riviera town of Nice on July 14, 2016. AFP PHOTO / VALERY HACHEVALERY HACHE/AFP/Getty Images
A vehicle of the Raid special intervention unit of the French police is seen near the site of the attack. AFP/Getty Images
Police officers stand near a van that ploughed into a crowd. AFP/Getty Images
A soldier stands guard near the site of the Nice attack. AFP/Getty Images
A helicopter flies near the site of the attack in the French Riviera town of Nice. AFP/Getty Images
A man walks with his hands up as police officers carry out checks on people in the centre of French Riviera town of Nice, after a van that ploughed into a crowd leaving a fireworks display on July 14, 2016. AFP PHOTO / Valery HACHEVALERY HACHE/AFP/Getty Images
Police officers carry out checks on vehicles in the centre of French Riviera town of Nice. AFP/Getty Images
Police officers carry out checks on vehicles in the centre of French Riviera town of Nice. AFP/Getty Images
Police officers carry out checks on vehicles in the centre of French Riviera town of Nice, after the terror attack. AFP/Getty Images
Police officers carry out checks on vehicles in the centre of French Riviera town of Nice, after a van drove into a crowd watching a fireworks display. AFP/Getty Images
Police officers carry out checks on vehicles in the centre of French Riviera town of Nice after the terror attack. Photo: AFP/Getty Images
Police officers stand near a van, with its windscreen riddled with bullets, that ploughed into a crowd leaving a fireworks display in the French Riviera town of Nice. Photo: AFP/Getty Images
The truck that mowed through revellers in Nice (AP)
French police forces and forensic officers stand next to a truck July 15, 2016 that ran into a crowd celebrating the Bastille Day national holiday on the Promenade des Anglais killing at least 60 people in Nice, France, July 14. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard
French police forces and forensic officers stand next to a truck July 15, 2016 that ran into a crowd celebrating the Bastille Day national holiday on the Promenade des Anglais killing at least 60 people in Nice, France, July 14. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
French police forces and forensic officers stand next to a truck that ran into a crowd celebrating the Bastille Day national holiday on the Promenade des Anglais killing at least 60 people in Nice, France. Photo: Reuters
French police forces and forensic officers stand next to a truck that ran into a crowd celebrating the Bastille Day national holiday on the Promenade des Anglais killing at least 60 people in Nice, France. Photo: Reuters
Police officers and a soldier stand by the sealed off area of an attack after a truck drove on to the sidewalk and plowed through a crowd of revelers who'd gathered to watch the fireworks in the French resort city of Nice, southern France. Photo: AP
Video grab shows ambulances and Police cars after a truck drove on to the sidewalk and plowed through a crowd of revelers who had gathered to watch the fireworks in the French resort city of Nice. Photo: BFMTV via AP
French police and forensic officers stand beside a truck that ploughed into a crowd celebrating Bastille Day in Nice
French soldiers stand guard by the sealed off area of an attack after a truck drove on to the sidewalk and plowed through a crowd of revelers who'd gathered to watch the fireworks in the French resort city of Nice, southern France. Photo: AP
French soldiers stand guard by the sealed off area of an attack after a truck drove on to the sidewalk and plowed through a crowd of revelers who'd gathered to watch the fireworks in the French resort city of Nice, southern France, Friday, July 15, 2016. (AP Photo/Ciaran Fahey)
French police forces and forensic officers stand next to a truck that ran into a crowd celebrating the Bastille Day national holiday on the Promenade des Anglais killing at least 60 people in Nice, France. Photo: Reuters
People cross the street with their hands on thier heads as a French soldier secures the area July 15, 2016 after at least 60 people were killed along the Promenade des Anglais in Nice, France, when a truck ran into a crowd celebrating the Bastille Day national holiday July 14. REUTERS/Jean-Pierre Amet
French police and rescue forces vehicles are seen on the Promenade des Anglais July 15, 2016 after at least 60 people were killed in Nice, France, when a truck ran into a crowd celebrating the Bastille Day national holiday July 14. REUTERS/Jean-Pierre Amet
French police forces and forensic officers stand next to a truck July 15, 2016 that ran into a crowd celebrating the Bastille Day national holiday on the Promenade des Anglais killing at least 60 people in Nice, France, July 14. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard
French police and rescue forces vehicles are seen on the Promenade des Anglais July 15, 2016 after at least 60 people were killed in Nice, France, when a truck ran into a crowd celebrating the Bastille Day national holiday July 14. REUTERS/Jean-Pierre Amet
Police officers seal off the area of an attack after a truck drove on to the sidewalk and plowed through a crowd of revelers who'd gathered to watch the fireworks in the French resort city of Nice, southern France, Friday, July 15, 2016. (AP Photo/Ciaran Fahey)
French soldiers cordon the area after at least 30 people were killed in Nice, France, when a truck ran into a crowd celebrating the Bastille Day national holiday July 14, 2016. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard
Twitter feed video grab courtesy of @harp_detectives of people running away after dozens of people are believed to have been killed when a lorry ploughed into a Bastille Day crowd in Nice. @harp_detectives/PA Wire
Twitter feed video grab courtesy of @harp_detectives of people running away after dozens of people are believed to have been killed when a lorry ploughed into a Bastille Day crowd in Nice. @harp_detectives/PA Wire
French soldiers stand guard by the sealed off area of an attack after a truck drove on to the sidewalk and plowed through a crowd of revelers who'd gathered to watch the fireworks in the French resort city of Nice, southern France, Friday, July 15, 2016. (AP Photo/Ciaran Fahey)
French soldiers and rescue forces are seen at the scene whare at least 30 people were killed in Nice, France, when a truck ran into a crowd celebrating the Bastille Day national holiday July 14, 2016. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard
French soldiers and police secure the area after at least 30 people were killed in Nice, France, when a truck ran into a crowd celebrating the Bastille Day national holiday July 14, 2016. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard
French soldiers advance on the street after at least 30 people were killed in Nice, France, when a truck ran into a crowd celebrating the Bastille Day national holiday July 14, 2016. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard
French soldiers secure the street after at least 30 people were killed in Nice, France, when a truck ran into a crowd celebrating the Bastille Day national holiday July 14, 2016. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard
French soldiers advance on the street after at least 30 people were killed in Nice, France, when a truck ran into a crowd celebrating the Bastille Day national holiday July 14, 2016. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard
People cross the street with their hands on thier heads as a French soldier secures the area after the attack
French police and rescue forces vehicles are seen on the Promenade des Anglais after at least 60 people were killed in Nice, France, when a truck ran into a crowd celebrating the Bastille Day national holiday. Photo: Reuters
French police and rescue forces vehicles are seen on the Promenade des Anglais after at least 60 people were killed in Nice, France, when a truck ran into a crowd celebrating the Bastille Day national holiday. Photo: Reuters
Police officers seal off the area of an attack after a truck drove on to the sidewalk and plowed through a crowd of revelers who'd gathered to watch the fireworks in the French resort city of Nice, southern France. Photo: AP
Police officers and rescue workers arrive at the scene of an attack on July 14, 2016, after a van ploughed into a crowd leaving a fireworks display in the French Riviera town of Nice. Photo: AFP/Getty Images
A vehicle of the Raid special intervention unit of the French police is seen near the site of the attack in the French Riviera town of Nice. Photo: AFP/Getty Images
A helicopter flying near the scene after a van ploughed into a crowd leaving a fireworks display. Photo: AFP/Getty Images
Police officers carry out checks on vehicles in the centre of French Riviera town of Nice, after a van drove into a crowd watching a fireworks display on Bastille Day. Photo: AFP/Getty Images
At least 60 people are feared dead after a van drove into a crowd watching Bastille Day fireworks in the French resort of Nice. Photo: AFP/Getty Images
A soldier stands guard near the site of an attack in the French Riviera town of Nice, after a van that ploughed into a crowd leaving a fireworks display on July 14. Photo: AFP/Getty Images
Police officers speak with a soldier after a van that ploughed into a crowd leaving a fireworks display in the French Riviera town of Nice. Photo: AFP/Getty Images
Police officers stand near a van that ploughed into a crowd leaving a fireworks display in the French Riviera town of Nice. Photo: AFP/Getty Images
Police officers and firefighters arrive near the scene after a van ploughed into a crowd leaving a fireworks display in the French Riviera town of Nice. . Photo: AFP/Getty Images
Police officers stand near a van that ploughed into a crowd leaving a fireworks display in the French Riviera town of Nice. Photo: AFP/Getty Images
Photo: @harp_detectives/PA Wire
People running away after dozens of people are believed to have been killed in Nice (harp_detectives)
French soldiers secure the street after at least 30 people were killed in Nice, France, when a truck ran into a crowd celebrating the Bastille Day national holiday July 14, 2016. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard
French soldiers advance on the street after the terror attack in Nice, France. Reuters/Eric Gaillard
French soldiers advance on the street after at least 30 people were killed in Nice, France, when a truck ran into a crowd celebrating the Bastille Day national holiday July 14, 2016. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard

"There was an altercation between him and another driver and he hurled a wooden pallet at the man," Urvoas told reporters.

As it was his first conviction, Bouhlel was given a suspended sentence and had to contact police once a week, which he did, Urvoas added.

Tunisian security sources told Reuters Bouhlel had last visited his hometown of Msaken, about 120 km (75 miles) south of Tunis, four years ago.

Read more: Irish PR boss Valerie Roe 'paralysed' by fear after she was caught up in Nice terror attacks

He was married with three children, but had marital problems, the Tunisian sources said. He was not known by the Tunisian authorities to hold radical or Islamist views, and had held a French residence permit for the past 10 years without obtaining French nationality, Tunisian sources said.

Neighbours in the residential neighbourhood in northern Nice where Bouhlel lived said he had a tense personality and did not mingle with others.

"I would say he was someone who was pleasing to women," said neighbour Hanan, standing in the lobby of the apartment building where Bouhlel lived.

"But he was frightening. He didn't have a frightening face, but ... a look. He would stare at the children a lot," he added.

His home town Msaken is about 10 km (six miles) outside the coastal city of Sousse, where a gunman killed 38 people, mostly British holidaymakers, on a beach a year ago.

Many residents of the town have migrated to Nice, where the Tunisian community numbers about 130,000 people, according to Tunisian state news agency TAP.

The Tunisian government issued a statement condemning Thursday's attack "in the strongest possible terms".

Reuters

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