French police have been criticised for detaining an eight-year-old who claimed to support the men who attacked the satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo.
The move drew criticism that France’s measures to prevent people from defending terrorism have gone overboard.
Dozens of people have been arrested and accused of defending terrorism since the attacks, with some already drawing years-long prison terms in special expedited court proceedings. However, the boy, from the southern city of Nice, appears to be the youngest by far.
Fabienne Lewandowski, deputy director for public security in the Alpes-Maritimes region, told BFM television the boy had said: “The French must be killed. I am with the terrorists. The Muslims did well, and the journalists got what they deserved.”
Lewandowski said the boy also refused to take part in the national minute of silence for the victims on January 9.
The school director brought a complaint against the child on January 21 and the boy was questioned that day, with his father and a lawyer present.
The storming of the newspaper offices left 12 people dead and launched three days of terror in the Paris region that killed 20 people, including the gunmen. The school director brought a complaint against the child on January 21 and he was questioned that day with his father and a lawyer present.
“The reason we questioned him was to determine what could have influenced, what could have driven, this child to say something like this,” Lewandowski said. “It’s a shame that it happened in a formal questioning, but given what he said it was necessary to go further than usual.”
Sefen Guez Guez, a lawyer for the family, said the decision to question the child at a police station shows a “collective hysteria.”
“An eight-year-old does not belong in a police station. This is disproportionate and completely unreal,” he said.
Meanwhile, Fritz-Joly Joachin was arrested on January 1 on an unrelated warrant while trying to cross from Bulgaria into Turkey.
French police say the 19-year-old was an associate of the Kouachi brothers who killed 12 people the attack on Charlie Hebdo.
Joachin is accused of participating in an organised crime group with a terrorist aim, and links to a network feeding fighters to Syria.
He is expected to appear before a judge shortly.
The Kouachi brothers and gunman Amedy Coulibaly were killed by police after attacking the newspaper and a supermarket in Paris.
French authorities have handed four others preliminary charges on suspicion of links to the attackers.
European governments have been on alert for potential attacks by Islamic extremists, especially since the Paris killings.
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