NOT A TER­ROR­IST’

New Straits Times - - World -

af­ter a scuf­fle.

His fa­ther in­sisted his son, who had spent time in prison for armed rob­bery and drug-deal­ing, was not an ex­trem­ist.

“My son was not a ter­ror­ist. He never prayed, he drank,” the fa­ther, who was in shock and whose first name was not given, told Europe 1 ra­dio, blam­ing “drink and Pres­i­dent Paul Kagame.

“He im­plored anew God’s for­give­ness for the sins and fail­ings of the Church and its mem­bers, among whom priests and re­li­gious men and women who suc­cumbed to ha­tred and vi­o­lence, be­tray­ing their own evan­gel­i­cal mis­sion,” it said.

Fran­cis’s par­don plea fol­lowed a re­quest from Rwanda in Novem­ber for the church to apol­o­gise for its role in cannabis” for his son’s ac­tions.

An au­topsy was due to be car­ried out on Bel­gacem’s body on Sun­day to de­ter­mine if he was un­der the in­flu­ence of al­co­hol or drugs. In­ves­ti­ga­tors were also ex­am­in­ing his tele­phone.

The at­tack at Orly comes with France on high alert fol­low­ing a wave of ji­hadist at­tacks that had the mas­sacres.

Since the geno­cide, whose vic­tims were mostly from the Tutsi mi­nor­ity, the Catholic Church has been ac­cused of be­ing close to the Hutu ex­trem­ist regime in power in 1994.

A num­ber of churches be­came scenes of mass killings as Hutu mili­ti­a­men found peo­ple seek­ing refuge in them, some­times turned over by priests, with no way out. AFP claimed more than 230 lives in two years. The vi­o­lence had made se­cu­rity a key is­sue in France’s two-round pres­i­den­tial elec­tion on April 23 and May 7.

Bel­gacem’s brother and cousin were re­leased on Sun­day af­ter they, like the his fa­ther, were held for ques­tion­ing.

They had ap­proached po­lice them­selves on Satur­day af­ter the at­tack.

Af­ter spend­ing Fri­day night in a bar with his cousin, Bel­gacem was pulled over by po­lice for speed­ing in the gritty north­ern sub­urb of Garges-lesGonesse, where he lived, just be­fore 7am.

He drew a gun and fired, slightly in­jur­ing one of­fi­cer. Shortly af­ter, he con­tacted his rel­a­tives to tell them he had “done some­thing stupid”, they told po­lice.

Bel­gacem ap­peared at the bar where he had been the pre­vi­ous night, fir­ing more shots and steal­ing a car be­fore con­tin­u­ing on to the air­port.

His fa­ther told Europe 1 his son had called him af­ter the first po­lice shoot­ing “in a state of ex­treme ag­i­ta­tion”.

“He said to me: ‘Daddy, please for­give me. I’ve screwed up with a po­lice of­fi­cer’.”

At the time of his death, Bel­gacem was car­ry­ing a petrol can in his back­pack, as well as €750 (RM5,600) in cash, a copy of the Qu­ran, a packet of cig­a­rettes and a lighter.

A small amount of co­caine and a ma­chete were found at his home on Satur­day. AFP

AFP PIC

Pope Fran­cis (cen­tre) with Rwan­dan Pres­i­dent Paul Kagame and his wife, Jean­nette, at the Vat­i­can yes­ter­day.

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