French police name arrested Paris gun suspect

A handout photo from Paris prosecutors of a man suspected of gun attacks in Paris Paris's police prefecture handed out a picture of the suspected gunman in the Concorde metro station

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French authorities have named a man arrested on suspicion of carrying out recent gun attacks in Paris as Abdelhakim Dekhar.

He was taken into custody at about 18:00 GMT from a vehicle in a car park in Bois-Colombes, north-west of Paris.

Authorities said Dekhar had been jailed in 1998 for his role in a string of fatal shootings in Paris.

Last Friday a gunman threatened a Paris TV station and on Monday attacked a newspaper office and bank HQ.

Prosecutors said late on Wednesday that samples of Dekhar's DNA matched that from the crime scenes.

They said he was not yet in a position to be questioned and the reading of his rights had been postponed.

Third man

Dekhar was arrested in a stationary car in an underground car park following a tip-off from a member of the public.

Abdelhakim Dekhar

  • Former officer in the Algerian army
  • Sentenced to four years in prison in 1998 for buying a gun used in a shooting attack by Florence Rey and Audry Maupin
  • Witnesses at the trial described him as a mentor to the couple
  • He denied involvement, claiming he had been recruited by the Algerian secret service to infiltrate the French far-left
  • He was released soon after the trial and officials believe he went abroad for several years

Police union official Christophe Crepin said: "My colleagues noticed he was not very lucid. They deduced that he had taken medicines, because of the capsules nearby."

Some media sources have suggested he may have attempted suicide.

The BBC's Hugh Schofield in Paris says Dekhar is believed to have been the third man in the so-called Rey-Maupin affair, named after a young couple with links to anarchist groups who bungled an attempt to steal weapons from guards and then hijacked a taxi in 1994.

In the subsequent chase and shootout, three policemen and the taxi driver were killed, as well as Audry Maupin.

Maupin's girlfriend, Florence Rey, was released from jail a few years ago.

Their story was compared to the controversial American film, Natural Born Killers.

At his trial in 1998, Dekhar protested his innocence, claiming he had been recruited by the Algerian secret service to infiltrate the French far-left.

Florence Rey and Audry Maupin (R) - file pic 1993 Maupin (R) was killed in a 1994 shootout but Rey was released from jail

He was sentenced to four years in jail but released soon after the verdict, having already served his time in pre-trial detention.

Hundreds of police were involved in a huge manhunt that began on Monday, and security was stepped up at all media outlets.

An appeal for information generated almost 700 calls.

'I will not miss'

The first incident - last Friday - was at the offices of the BFMTV television channel.

The intruder emptied the chamber of his gun in the reception area without firing, saying: "Next time, I will not miss you."

The BBC's Christian Fraser: "For three days... police have been on high alert"

CCTV showed that he spent only a few seconds in reception, before hurrying out.

On Monday, the suspect attacked the offices of the Liberation newspaper, firing twice and critically injuring a 23-year-old photography assistant.

Two hours later, the same man fired shots outside the headquarters of the bank Societe Generale, in the western business district of La Defense. No-one was hurt.

A car was then hijacked and the driver was forced to drop the suspect off near the Avenue des Champs Elysees, where he disappeared.

The attacks shocked French newspapers.

The publisher of Liberation, Nicolas Demorand, wrote a commentary on Tuesday promising to continue to operate.

"Opening fire in a newspaper is an attack on the lives of men and women who are only doing their jobs. And on an idea, a set of values, which we call the Republic," he said.

The gunshot victim is said to have improved in hospital, is now conscious and no longer needs an artificial respirator.

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