Saturday 21 April 2018

Politician arrested for celebrating hero officer's death

An image of Lieutenant Colonel Arnaud Beltrame on flowers at gates of the gendarmerie of Carcassonne in south-west France. Photo: AFP/Getty
An image of Lieutenant Colonel Arnaud Beltrame on flowers at gates of the gendarmerie of Carcassonne in south-west France. Photo: AFP/Getty

Rory Mulholland

A French far-left politician has been arrested for apparently celebrating the death of a gendarme hailed as a hero for offering himself in place of a hostage taken by an Islamist gunman.

Stéphane Poussier was detained after tweets posted from his account said: "Every time a gendarme gets whacked… I think of my friend Rémi Fraisse," an environmental protester who died after police threw a concussion grenade during demonstrations in 2014.

"And this time it was a colonel, great! It also means one less vote for (President Emmanuel) Macron," said the tweet, which was quickly deleted and the Twitter account closed after it sparked an outcry.

Lieutenant Colonel Arnaud Beltrame was shot and stabbed after taking the place of a woman whom Radouane Lakdim, who had already killed three people, was using as a human shield during his attack on Friday at a supermarket in Trebes in south-western France.

Mr Poussier, who failed to win a seat when he stood as a candidate in last year's parliamentary election, was expelled from La France Insoumise (France Unbowed) party led by Jean-Luc Mélenchon soon after he sent out the offensive tweet on Saturday.

Yesterday police arrived at his home in Normandy and took him into custody.

He may be charged with an offence known as apology for terrorist acts, for which the maximum penalty is seven years in prison and a fine of €100,000.

Mr Beltrame, whom the French president has declared a national hero, died of a knife wound to the neck, according to 'Le Parisien' newspaper, which quoted security sources who had seen the results of a post-mortem examination carried out on the officer.

The stab wound was the blow that killed him, but he also was hit by bullets, the paper said.

Hundreds of mourners, both Christian and Muslim, came together at a service in a Catholic church in Trèbes yesterday to pay their respects to the officer and the three others who died in the attack claimed by Isil.

In dozens of towns across France, people left flowers or messages outside gendarme stations to show their support.

Lakdim (25), who was armed with a gun, knife and homemade explosive devices, was shot dead as police moved in to end his siege of the supermarket. His girlfriend and a teenage friend were still being questioned yesterday in connection with the case.

Irish Independent

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