At the end of the morning, Friday February 19, a man broke into a reception center for refugees in Pau (Pyrénées-Atlantiques), where he fatally injured the director of the structure. The Minister of the Interior, Gérald Darmanin, went there, accompanied by the mayor of the city, François Bayrou, and brought his “solidarity with the residents of Pau and all the staff of the Isard Cos association, hard hit by this despicable act”. Franceinfo takes stock of what we know about this case.
I came this afternoon to #Pau with @bayrou to bring all my solidarity to the people of Pau and to all the staff of the Isard Cos association, hard hit by this despicable act.
I have fond thoughts for the family and relatives of the victim. pic.twitter.com/LRJshZrRPq
– Gérald DARMANIN (@GDarmanin) February 19, 2021
A center manager killed by stabbing
The facts took place at the reception center for asylum seekers (Cada) Isard-COS in Pau, Friday. Around 10:30 am, a man asks to meet the person in charge of the structure, who invites him to leave the premises. The alleged assailant does not comply and follows the manager into his office, where he allegedly stabbed him several times. The victim’s screams alerted his colleagues, who called firefighters around 11 a.m., reporting that the 46-year-old was seriously injured with a stabbing weapon.
They succeeded in overpowering the abuser “at the level of the arms” with “a lot of courage”, insisted Cécile Gensac, prosecutor of the Republic of Pau, during a press conference held on Saturday. They kept him in an office until the police stopped him, without resistance. The victim died of his injuries, despite the care provided by the emergency services.
This man, father of two, was a “experienced social worker”, in the words of its director Elias Philippe. Head of the “asylum” pole of the structure for six years, he “knew how to handle delicate and difficult situations”. The first medical findings “revealed 13 wounds on the body of the victim, mainly on the thorax”, said Cécile Gensac. The knife used in the assault was found there.
The alleged perpetrator admitted to the facts
Quickly arrested following the assault, without offering any resistance, the alleged perpetrator of the stabbing was taken into custody for “murder” and admitted the facts. According to the statements of the public prosecutor of Pau, this is a “38-year-old Sudanese man, followed by the reception center a few years ago but who was no longer accommodated by one of their structures.”
The man was the subject of a first psychiatric examination, which “did not show any pathology”. He will be brought before an investigating judge on Sunday, with a view to indictment for murder and pre-trial detention.
Aggression linked to the refusal of his asylum application
There is no evidence to link the aggression to any political or ideological demands. “The elements collected make it possible to rule out any terrorist intention”, said Cécile Gensac. She also added that the suspect was “neither reported nor recorded in the context of violent radicalization”.
Present on French territory since 2015, this 38-year-old man resided in France under international subsidiary protection, by decision of the National Court of Asylum, the administrative justice. This Sudanese, doomed to an imminent expulsion, had not had a residence permit since last November, due to several convictions for violence against other people hosted by the Cada. As such, he had spent 18 months in prison between 2017 and 2018. He had been summoned by Ofpra to “the abolition of its protective status following criminal convictions”, detailed the prosecutor. He did not attend these summons, the last one dating from December.
According to prosecutor Cécile Gensac, “he harbors criticisms against the structure, following the escheat he has known since his release from prison, considering that his situation has not been well treated”. On Friday, he went to the Isard-Cos center in Pau to “obtain a paper from the structure and therefore from the victim […] in order to allow its maintenance on the national territory “ and avoid returning to Sudan where “local wars” had urged him to leave for Europe. The alleged perpetrator had already come “three times in the current week” in the center.