The Gare de Lyon attacker, so far not “violent” according to a priest, still in police custody


The custody of the 32-year-old Malian who injured three people, one seriously on Saturday at Lyon station in Paris, described by one of his relatives as having "never shown violent tendencies", was still in progress on Monday.

Implicated in this open investigation for attempted assassinations, his police custody was "still in progress" on Monday around 16:00 p.m. and "may continue into the night", after having been interrupted for almost 24 hours between Saturday and Sunday for cause of passage to the psychiatric infirmary of the Paris police headquarters.

A decision on legal action could be taken on Tuesday morning.

Until then, "investigations are continuing, in order to assess in particular his intention, his degree of criminal responsibility, and the qualifications that can be given to the acts committed."

The attack took place on Saturday shortly after 07:30 a.m.: the assailant seriously injured a 66-year-old man by stabbing him in the abdomen and two hammer blows to the head, according to a police source.

This man's vital prognosis was "still engaged" on Monday afternoon according to the prosecution.

Two other men, born in October 1966 and February 2000, were also injured by “blows”. One of them, injured in one hand, was released from the hospital on Saturday evening. 

The prosecution also mentioned two other victims on Monday: "a woman born in February 1999, who was behind the accused when he set his bag on fire, and after whom he ran"; “a man born in June 1979, security guard, who also intervened.”

The assailant, of Malian nationality, was "in a regular situation in Italy since 2016, with a document issued in 2019 which is completely valid", according to the identity documents found in his possession, the Paris police prefect said on Saturday Laurent Nuñez. This title allowed him to travel to France legally.


 According to the Italian Carabinieri, the suspect lived until 2021 in a reception center run by the Catholic association Agathon in the village of Montalto Dora, north of Turin.

Unknown to the French and Italian police services, "he was being monitored for psychiatric problems but he never showed violent tendencies", they told AFP. 

This is corroborated by Nicol Alfonsi, the parish priest of Montalto Dora. “He arrived in Italy in 2016 on a boat, with other migrants, in Pozzallo, in Sicily, then was sent to Turin and welcomed at Montalto Dora,” the man of the church told AFP.

"Right away we understood that he had problems of a psychological nature. He was not violent but sometimes we found him doing antics in the street. We presented him to a doctor and he seemed that his psychological problems come from a past illness. Therapy was prescribed and he has been well since then,” assures the priest.

According to him, the thirty-year-old obtained asylum in 2016 and a residence permit in 2017. “He then worked as an agricultural worker”. 

The priest sometimes lost sight of his protégé who, according to the Italian press, then lived in Turin and worked in a DIY store.

“I was stunned” on Saturday “because when he was with us, he never showed the slightest violence. He was a happy boy who got along well with his comrades and did not do drugs,” assures the priest.

The Italian police, questioned on Sunday, specified that the attacker had "obtained a residence permit for subsidiary protection", protection given by a State for people who do not meet the asylum criteria. 

Laurent Nuñez indicated on Saturday that “medications” had been found on him.

Investigators are still working on a TikTok account opened in the name of the attacker, on which we see a black man with glasses, bearded, close-cropped hair.

On one of the videos, dated December 2, 2023, the author of the account writes: "RIP (rest in peace, Editor's note) in three months, may Allah welcome me to his paradise". In other videos, he notably expresses his resentment towards France, referring to the French military intervention in Mali.

Writing (with AFP)

Image credit: Shutterstock / NavinTar

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