The man behind the Bastille Day truck attack in Nice planned the atrocity for months and received logistical support from accomplices, French prosecutors have said.
Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel killed 84 people when he drove his truck through crowds gathered to watch a fireworks display on the Promenade des Anglais last week.
Bouhlel was shot dead by police at the scene, but five suspects have since been arrested and are facing preliminary terrorism charges for their alleged roles in helping the driver.
Prosecutor François Molins said his office has information from Bouhlel’s phone which shows searches and photos indicating he had been studying an attack since 2015.
Molins said the four men and a women were “involved in the preparation” of the attack, which had been planned months in advance.
More than 400 investigators have been poring over evidence since the July 14 attack in which Bouhlel rammed a truck into crowds on the promenade, leaving 84 dead and over 300 injured.
Molins said that one of the suspects had filmed the scene of the crime after the carnage, as it crawled with police and journalists.
The suspects were to be presented to anti-terrorism judges last night and Molins said prosecutors had requested they be charged with conspiracy to commit terrorism, among other crimes.
Meanwhile, France’s interior minister acknowledged there were no national police stationed at the entrance to the pedestrianised walkway in Nice during the Bastille Day attack.
Bernard Cazeneuve’s clarification came as a newspaper accused authorities of lacking transparency over their handling of the massacre.
In what represents backtracking from previous claims, Cazeneuve said only local police, who are more lightly armed, were guarding the entrance when Bouhlel attacked.
Cazeneuve initially said “national police were present and very present on the Promenade des Anglais” and suggested their cars were blocking the walkway entrance, in a speech two days after the attack.
Cazeneuve launched an internal police investigation into the handling of the attack shortly after yesterday’s backtrack, in a move aimed to diffuse criticism.
French newspaper Liberation said Cazeneuve lied about the whereabouts of the national police officers and cars, and accused authorities of lacking transparency.
Liberation said only one local police car was stationed at the walkway entrance.
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