French policeman killed in extremist attack honoured in Paris

French policeman killed in extremist attack honoured in Paris
Former French Presidents Francois Hollande, left, and Nicolas Sarkozy wait prior to a national ceremony for Lt. Col. Arnaud Beltrame.

The policeman who died in last week's extremist attack in southern France is being honoured in an elaborate, daylong national homage led by French President Emmanuel Macron.

It comes as questions are being raised about possible failures in French counter-terrorism tracking of the gunman, who was on a radicalisation watch list before he went on a rampage last Friday.

The coffin of Lieutenant Colonel Arnaud Beltrame was carried in procession in the Wednesday morning drizzle from the Pantheon across Paris to the Hotel des Invalides, the final resting place of Napoleon.

Lieutenant Colonel Arnaud Beltrame.
Lieutenant Colonel Arnaud Beltrame.

The French president will deliver a public eulogy in front of colleagues and family of Mr Beltrame, who died of his wounds on Saturday morning, hours after swapping himself for a hostage during a siege in a supermarket.

During the ceremony, Mr Macron will posthumously award Mr Beltrame the Legion of Honour, France's highest award.

Three former presidents, Francois Hollande, Nicolas Sarkozy and Valery Giscard d'Estaing, are also attending in a symbol of the political dimension this ceremony has taken.

The national homage includes a minute's silence in French police stations and myriad events in schools that both honour Mr Beltrame's memory and provide a focal point for national grief after last Friday's killing spree.

Some 2,000 high school students and scores of police attended the Paris event that began as gendarmes sang the French revolutionary anthem the Marseillaise in the stone courtyard of the French Interior Ministry.

The ministry's boss, Gerard Collomb, maintained on Wednesday morning that there were no "dysfunctions" in tracking Mr Beltrame's killer, Redouane Lakdim, who also killed three other people before he was shot dead by police.

French policeman killed in extremist attack honoured in Paris

Speaking on France Inter, amid questions on possible failures in counter-terrorism tracking, Mr Collomb confirmed the security services were about to reduce the surveillance on Lakdim, who was on a radicalisation watch list.

He said "ultimately no one thought that there would be a hasty attack" by Lakdim, a Moroccan-born French resident with dual nationality.

Questions have been also raised by authorities in Morocco.

Lieutenant Colonel Arnaud Beltrame
Lieutenant Colonel Arnaud Beltrame

The chief of a counter-terrorism agency, known as Morocco's FBI, said on Tuesday that France never alerted his country about Lakdim's radical behaviour - calling the absence of contact "a misunderstanding".

Since the attack, the agency - created three years ago to consolidate counter-terrorism efforts - has been investigating Lakdim's family members in Morocco, Abdelhak Khiame told The Associated Press

Lakdim visited Morocco several times, most recently in February 2012, before the establishment of the Islamic State, Mr Khiame added.

- PA

More on this topic

Strasbourg market gunman ‘pledged allegiance to IS’Strasbourg market gunman ‘pledged allegiance to IS’

French officer's mother not surprised by his courageFrench officer's mother not surprised by his courage

French hero officer who swapped himself for hostage diesFrench hero officer who swapped himself for hostage dies

'Nutella price riots' sparks French fraud probe'Nutella price riots' sparks French fraud probe

More in this Section

Trump likens impeachment inquiry to ‘a lynching’Trump likens impeachment inquiry to ‘a lynching’

Jimmy Carter in hospital after fall at homeJimmy Carter in hospital after fall at home

Norwegian police open fire on man who ‘drove ambulance into crowd’, including baby in a pushchairNorwegian police open fire on man who ‘drove ambulance into crowd’, including baby in a pushchair

Manchester Arena bomber’s brother pleads not guilty to murder chargesManchester Arena bomber’s brother pleads not guilty to murder charges


Lifestyle

Lacemakers in Limerick want to preserve their unique craft for future generations and hope to gain UNESCO heritage status, writes Ellie O’Byrne.Made in Munster: Lace-making a labour of love rather than laborious industry

More From The Irish Examiner