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21-year-old charged in connection with priest's murder

People pay tributes to Father Jacques Hamel who was killed in the church at Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray, near Rouen.
People pay tributes to Father Jacques Hamel who was killed in the church at Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray, near Rouen. Reuters

A French court charged and remanded in custody a 21-year-old man arrested in connection with the jihadist murder of a priest in a Normandy church last month.

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According to a judicial source, the man was the second to be held in connection with the killing of 85-year-old Jacques Hamel. He was charged with “criminal association in connection with terrorism”, after his arrest on Monday in the Toulouse area.

Just before the Hamel’s murder on July 26 in the town of Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray, the man had travelled to the Rouen region in northern France where he met Hamel's killers Adel Kermiche and Abdel Malik Petitjean, both 19 years old, according to a source close to the investigation.

The suspect, who is unemployed, claimed he was radicalised quickly and investigators believe he was mentally unstable, according to the source.

The attack on the church in the town of Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray was claimed by the Islamic State armed group.

The two assailants were killed by police after slitting the priest’s throat, injuring another person and taking five people hostage.

The grisly attack – the first committed in the name of IS armed group against a church in the West – came less than two weeks after a Tunisian ploughed a 19-tonne truck into a crowd celebrating Bastille Day in the Riviera city of Nice, killing 85 people and wounding more than 300.

- with AFP

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