Paris gun suspect Dekhar 'wrote confused letters'

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

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French investigators have found two "confused" letters which may explain the motives of the suspected gunman behind two recent attacks in Paris.

Prosecutors said in one of the letters Abdelhakim Dekhar had denounced media manipulation and capitalism.

Dekhar was arrested on Wednesday after a major manhunt.

According to the French authorities, he has been jailed before - in 1998, for his role in a string of previous Paris shootings.

After his release he lived in Britain for several years before returning to France in July, the authorities said.

Third man

After a two-day manhunt, Dekhar was arrested on Wednesday evening in a stationary car in an underground car park following a tip-off from a member of the public.

TV grab obtained from 17 Juin Media TV production showing a photo of Abdelhakim Dekhar taken in 1994 Abdelhakim Dekhar has been in jail before, in the 1990s
Florence Rey and Audry Maupin (R) - file pic 1993 Maupin (R) was killed in a 1994 shootout but Rey was released from jail

One of Dekhar's letters was found beside him in the car, with details of his wishes for burial, Paris prosecutor Francois Molins told a press conference.

Another letter was reportedly given to officials by the man who housed him.

This man, according to Mr Molins, had been away from the building until recently, but on his return saw photos of the suspect in the Liberation shooting and recognised Dekhar, who on confrontation confessed to being the man behind the attack.

Mr Molins said the second letter spoke of a "fascist plot" and accused the media of participating in the "manipulation of the masses".

Abdelhakim Dekhar

  • 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 said that when Dekhar was arrested, it appeared he had taken medication and did not seem very lucid.

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.

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

'I will not miss'

In the wake of the two shooting incidents, hundreds of police were involved in a huge manhunt and security was stepped up at all media outlets.

An appeal for information generated almost 700 calls.

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"

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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