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French Justice Minister Nicole Belloubet. Screenshot from Public Sénat
Strasburg

After Strasburg ‘the Yellow Vests must stop’ says Minister of Justice

Asked about the continued demonstrations by Yellow Vests in the context of the latest Strasbourg terror attack, French Justice Minister Nicole Belloubet said the movement "must stop", because President Emmanuel Macron has provided "answers" to their demands.

Published: December 13, 2018, 7:26 am

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    “Yes, I think the movement must stop,” said the Minister. The day after the killings at the Christmas market in Strasburg on Tuesday, December 11, 2018, Belloubet was asked on Wednesday during her appearance on the TV show Territoire d’Infos a specific question: “In this context where the police are on the alert, do you ask the Yellow Vests to stop their movement, at least to stop demonstrating?” .

    Belloubet responded: “On the one hand there is this dramatic event, on which we are very focused, and on the other hand, with respect to the issue of Yellow Vests, there have been some answers from the President of the Republic. These answers […] seem to me to form a coherent whole […] compared to the claims of Yellow Vests. […] It seems to me that answers have been provided. Yes, I think the movement must stop.”

    This request for Yellow Vests to end their movement has angered a member of the group, Clémentine Autain. “The Yellow Vests are not responsible for the shooting,” she said. “Why instrumentalize the dramatic event of Strasburg, which deserves Republican unity instead, to settle a social conflict? This seems to me indecent.”

    An Algerian opened fire near the Christmas market in Neudorf, Strasburg on Tuesday. An investigation has been opened for terrorism, and the suspect is still on the run.

    The shooting in the city centre, in rue des Orfèvres in Neudorf, prompted the antiterrorist section of the Paris public prosecutor’s office to take over the case. Authorities initially reported three dead and 14 wounded, nine serious and five less serious, but finally revised the numbers, citing two deaths and a person who is now brain-dead.

    The Paris prosecutor, Rémy Heitz, spoke during a press conference in which he announced the human toll, reporting 12 wounded, six in critical condition and two deaths in addition to a brain-dead person.

    The prosecutor then gave details of the facts and actions of the shooter, stating that “witnesses heard him shout ‘Allah Akbar'”.

    He added: “The assailant had opened fire and used a knife with which he seriously wounded and killed. He then targeted members of Operation Sentinel. He was then hit by shots and wounded in his arm,” Heitz explained. He added that “four relatives” of the attacker had been placed in custody.

    The Secretary of State to the Minister of the Interior, Laurent Nuñez had advised caution earlier: “The terrorist motivation of the act, as we speak, is not yet established and I urge the greatest caution on this,” he said in the early morning.

    For him, the fact that the suspect is “listed S” does not constitute an “indication of dangerousness”. Fiche S is an indicator used by French law enforcement to flag an individual considered to be a serious threat to national security. The “S” stands for Sûreté de l’État or “state security”.

    It is the highest level of such a warning in France as it allows surveillance. The individuals assigned a fiche S include gangsters, prison escapees, and suspected Islamist radicals.

    Moreover, according to Laurent Nuñez, the fact that the suspect was able to leave French territory “can not be excluded”.

    After the suspect Chérif C in Strasbourg launched his attack on the Christmas market, he is also wanted in Germany. According to the French Government, it can not be ruled out at the moment that the Frenchman of Algerian origin has fled to Germany.

    In the meantime, security forces are also looking for the presumed assassin’s brother in Germany. The German Federal Police have therefore been carrying out increased traffic controls in Baden-Württemberg, Saarland and Rhineland-Palatinate.

    At noon the police temporarily detained three men on the A1 near Bremen. They were traveling in a taxi with a French registration number. The persons however had no connection with the terror attack and were released again, the police said.

    Chérif C had been convicted several times in France for burglaries in the past. In 2016, he broke into a pharmacy and a dental practice in Germany. For his crimes, he served a nearly two-year long prison sentence and was then deported to France, reported T-Online, citing German authorities.

    An automatic weapon and a knife were used in the shooting, according to information collected by Franceinfo.

    Some 350 police officers have been assigned to look for the 29-year-old, according to French Minister of the Interior Christophe Castaner, who added that “between 20h20 and 21h, he has twice confronted by our security forces with systematic exchanges of fire”. According to Franceinfo, the suspect fled in a taxi.

    Le Figaro reported that the suspect has a “hybrid profile”. The French daily noted that he had already been convicted in France and Germany and had served his sentences.

    He is also known to the DGSI, the French secret service, for having been radicalised. According to a source close to the case cited by Le Parisien, the suspect was reported for violence and religious proselytism during his stay in prison, but neigbours of the suspect denied the claim to Reuters.

    The “white plan” was triggered in all hospitals, according to Le Figaro. The plan involves alerting hospitals, emergency services and the entire public health system. The wounded were evacuated to the hospital centre of Strasburg.

    Christophe Castaner left a meeting early to travel to Strasburg, according to the Elysée. He was accompanied by the Mayor of Strasburg Roland Ries, who was also in Paris.

    After the shooting on Tuesday, conspiracy theories began to emerge on French social networks. According to some Yellow Vests, this attack was specifically designed to stop the movement.

    Theories have been flourishing on social networks, suggesting an immense lack of trust in their current leaders, with some Yellow Vests even accusing the state of a “false flag” attack.

    The attack was organised by the state according to some Yellow Vests. Others speak of a “plot”, and a “coup”. But what is clear, is that the responsibility of the government in the Strasburg attack has lit up Facebook and Twitter since Tuesday.

    For many, this attack is just an excuse to declare a state of emergency and cancel act V of the mobilisation of Yellow Vests for Saturday, December 15.

    “Do you not find it strange that this attack should happen while the government is threatened? I bet they will ban act 5!” a subscriber said on the Facebook page of the movement, quoted by RTL.

    Another said: “Do not be impressed by this attack mounted from scratch by the secret services”.

    Many cited evidence of a false flag because of a tweet from the prefecture of the Grand-Est region that was published in late morning at 11:47, while the attack actually took place in the evening.

    One of the spokespersons of the Yellow Vests, Maxime Nicolle, known as Fly Rider, goes even further: “There were shots, there were wounded. There may be a death, it turns out it’s just crazy! If it was an attack, ask yourself why the guy waits until there are 3 people on a street in the evening at 8pm. He does not go to the middle of the Champs-Elysees when there are millions of people and he blows himself up, that’s a real attack! The rest is theatre to scare.”

    Some also found it peculiar that no photo of the suspect has yet been released, even though he is a wanted fugitive with 27 criminal convictions for theft and violence and time done in French, German and Swiss prisons.

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