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France: Alleged gun source given preliminary terror charges

December 17, 2018
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Residents react during a gathering being held in a central square of the eastern French city of Strasbourg, Sunday Dec.16, 2018 to pay homage to the victims of a gunman who killed four people and wounded a dozen more. The gathering was held in Kleber Square by a Christmas market and near where the gunman opened fire last Tuesday evening. (AP Photo/Jean-Francois Badias)
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Residents react during a gathering being held in a central square of the eastern French city of Strasbourg, Sunday Dec.16, 2018 to pay homage to the victims of a gunman who killed four people and wounded a dozen more. The gathering was held in Kleber Square by a Christmas market and near where the gunman opened fire last Tuesday evening. (AP Photo/Jean-Francois Badias)

PARIS (AP) — A man suspected of supplying the gun that was used in the shooting attack that killed five people near a Christmas market in Strasbourg was handed preliminary terror charges Monday, according to a judicial official close to the investigation.

The official, who could not be named with the case ongoing, said the individual appeared before a judge and was charged with criminal association with terrorists, as well as possessing and supplying arms in connection with a terrorist enterprise.

The man is suspected of furnishing the weapon that alleged gunman Cherif Chekatt used in the Dec. 11 attack, the judicial official said. He was remanded into custody. Chekatt, 29, died in a shootout with police in Strasbourg Thursday.

Two other people were arrested and detained Monday as part of the terror investigation the Paris prosecutor’s office is conducting into the attack. They also were suspected of “playing a role in supplying the firearm,” said the official.

Their arrests bring the number of suspects in custody since the attack to three; Chekatt’s parents and two of his brothers were questioned by police last week and released.

The death toll from the attack increased to five Sunday night after a Polish man died of his wounds in a Strasbourg hospital. Barto Orent-Niedzielski, 36, lived in the city, where he worked at the European Parliament and as a journalist. The other casualties include a tourist from Thailand and an Italian journalist covering the European Parliament.

According to some reports, Orent-Niedzielski fought the shooter and stopped him from entering a crowded club, possibly preventing more deaths.

Polish President Andrzej Duda wrote early Monday on Twitter that “I knew him by sight. I am shocked. I had not realized that he was the one mortally wounded protecting other people. Honor to his memory. RIP.”

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Two people were arrested and one appeared before a French judge Monday as part of a terrorism-related investigation of the shooting attack that killed five people last week near a Christmas market in Strasbourg, the Paris prosecutor’s office said.

An official close to the investigation said the man who was in court is suspected of involvement in supplying the weapon that alleged gunman Cherif Chekatt used in the Dec. 11 attack. Chekatt, 29, died in a shootout with police in Strasbourg Thursday.

The two detained Monday also were suspected of “playing a role in supplying the firearm,” said the official, who could not be named with the case ongoing. Their arrests bring the number of suspects in custody since the attack to three; Chekatt’s parents and two of his brothers were questioned by police last week and released.

The death toll from the attack increased to five Sunday night after a Polish man died of his wounds in a Strasbourg hospital. Barto Orent-Niedzielski, 36, lived in the city, where he worked at the European Parliament and as a journalist. The other casualties include a tourist from Thailand and an Italian journalist covering the European Parliament.

According to some reports, Orent-Niedzielski fought the shooter and stopped him from entering a crowded club, possibly preventing more deaths.

Polish President Andrzej Duda wrote early Monday on Twitter that “I knew him by sight. I am shocked. I had not realized that he was the one mortally wounded protecting other people. Honor to his memory. RIP.”

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Samuel Petrequin in Paris and Monika Scislowska in Warsaw contributed to this report.

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