The Franco-Iranian Armand R.-M. was indicted on the evening of Wednesday December 6 by an anti-terrorism investigating judge and then imprisoned for the fatal knife attack on Saturday evening in Paris near the Eiffel Tower.
According to a judicial source, the 26-year-old man claimed in police custody to have responded to a “call at the end of October from the Islamic State, asking to kill Jews”. He said he acted “in response to the abuses, according to him, by the State of Israel in the Gaza Strip”.
Placement in pre-trial detention and solitary confinement
On Wednesday, he was indicted for assassination and attempted assassination, in connection with a terrorist enterprise and in a state of legal recidivism, and for criminal terrorist association, indicated the national anti-terrorism prosecutor’s office (Pnat).
A judge of freedoms and detention (JLD) then decided to place him in pre-trial detention, as requested by the Pnat, but also to place him in solitary confinement. “I fought this measure,” said his lawyer Clémentine Perros, but the judge considered that it was necessary for “the safety of my client and the prison officers”.
During the hearing before the JLD, the assailant appeared focused, with a long black beard and scratches on his face, wearing a gray fleece. The debates were then held behind closed doors.
One dead and two injured
His lawyer did not wish to comment on the merits of the case. “There have already been a lot of leaks,” she regretted to the press. “You already know that he spoke widely during the 96 hours of police custody.” However, he remained silent before the investigating judge, according to a judicial source.
Known to the intelligence services for his radical Islamism and his psychiatric disorders, he killed a 23-year-old German-Filipino tourist with a knife on Saturday evening, and injured two other people with a hammer, near the Eiffel Tower, less than eight months before the Olympic Games in the capital.
While in police custody, the man who pledged allegiance to the Islamic State appeared “disembodied” and “cold”, according to a source close to the investigation. He indicated that he had considered “several targets”, and in particular the Vel d’Hiv children’s memorial garden, in memory of the Jewish children rounded up on July 16 and 17, 1942 during the Shoah. “There were Jewish sites considered, but not only that,” specifies the judicial source.
The suspect also indicated, according to a source close to the investigation, that he could not stand that the Eiffel Tower was lit “in the colors of Israel” after the massacres committed by the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas on October 7.
On Sunday, his parents and a relative were in turn placed in police custody in the premises of the General Directorate of Internal Security (DGSI). The parents, “very attached to France” according to the source close to the investigation, were released on Monday.
A five-year prison sentence served in 2020
His relative’s custody was lifted on Wednesday morning without prosecution at this stage. According to a source close to the case, this 27-year-old woman “belongs to the jihadist sphere” and had received a recent marriage proposal from the attacker. The latter had “seen her the day before” of his act, according to a source close to the investigation.
The government has been under pressure since this attack which occurred after that in mid-October in Arras (Pas-de-Calais), which cost the life of a teacher and led to the Vigipirate plan being raised to the maximum “emergency attack” level. Prime Minister Élisabeth Borne said she was ready to put more resources into protecting the French after this new attack, in an interview posted online Wednesday evening by Le Figaro.
Armand R.-M. had already been sentenced to five years of imprisonment for terrorist conspiracy, after a planned violent action in La Défense, the business district west of Paris, in 2016. He was released from prison in March 2020.
Did he still have links within the Islamist sphere? Investigators are limited in their investigations by the fact that they have not found this man’s phone, according to the source close to the investigation.