Arras knife attack: why the suspect on file “S” was not deported

Was there a malfunction? This is what the National Rally has been arguing since the terrorist knife attack which cost the life of a French teacher, Dominique Bernard, on Friday October 13

Arras knife attack: why the suspect on file “S” was not deported

Was there a malfunction? This is what the National Rally has been arguing since the terrorist knife attack which cost the life of a French teacher, Dominique Bernard, on Friday October 13. The alleged perpetrator, Mohammed Mogouchkov, is a Russian Muslim extremist who was almost deported to Russia in 2014. Jordan Bardella denounced "flaws in the entire chain of responsibility", when the power in place and his predecessor assure that the law was respected.

The code of foreigners' rights reserves numerous exceptions, which benefited the attacker, whose record was clean and whose surveillance had not made it possible to prove terrorist intentions.

Why had the family already been subject to eviction proceedings?

In 2008, the family of Mohammed Mogouchkov, originally from Ingushetia (a region in southwest Russia where Sunni Islam predominates), settled in France, in the village of La Guerche-de-Bretagne (Ille- et-Vilaine), south of Rennes. He was then 6 years old. The father multiplies the procedures to obtain political refugee status, in vain.

In 2013, his final request for asylum was refused by the prefecture. The couple and their five children, including a baby, were then placed under house arrest in a home. On February 18, 2014, the border police arrested the family and transferred them to Roissy airport to send them back to Russia. Their expulsion is canceled at the last minute.

Why was their expulsion canceled?

At the time, the local press focused on the mobilization of associations supporting undocumented immigrants. The decision would nevertheless have been taken by the teams of Manuel Valls, who was then Minister of the Interior, as he explained on Sunday October 15 on Franceinfo. His office “considered that the family, who had been there for more than five years, who had children in school from CP or CE1 to sixth grade, met the criteria of what was called the Valls circular concerning undocumented immigrants , expulsions of children”. This 2012 circular provides for several situations in which the prefect is suggested to show flexibility when faced with a request for regularization from an undocumented foreigner:

It is under this last criterion that the expulsion procedure of the Mogouchkov family could be canceled. To do this, it was necessary to prove a "durable settlement" of at least five years, with some exceptions, and the schooling of at least one of the children "for at least three years", conditions that the family met, the authors estimated. associations, although the prefecture contested their attendance at school.

Once an adult, could Mohammed Mogushkov have been deported?

Mohamed Mogouchkov turned 18 in 2021. However, article L631-3 of the foreigners' law code prohibits the expulsion of a person who has settled in France before the age of 13, which was the case of the latter. However, the law provides for exceptions, in particular “behavior likely to harm the fundamental interests of the State, or linked to activities of a terrorist nature. » This is the reason why former President François Hollande estimated, Monday October 16, that he “could have been expelled. »

These behaviors must still be proven. In 2019, the brother of the alleged terrorist, Movsar, was arrested by the DGSI, who suspected him of spreading jihadist propaganda for the Islamic State. He was sentenced in April 2023 to five years in prison.

Mohammed Mogouchkov was reported by his high school for radicalization in 2020. Since 2023, he was listed as “S”. The intelligence services were following him for his supposed links with activities threatening state security – here, Islamist terrorism – a listing which is not the subject of a judicial decision and is based on sometimes indirect clues, such as the knowledge of a terrorist.

On Monday October 16, the Minister of the Interior, Gérald Darmanin, clarified during a press conference that the attacker's criminal record was clean, that his follow-up by the DGSI was less than three months old, and that no proof of a terrorist project could be provided. According to the Interior Ministry, the intelligence services were taken by surprise by “his sudden action.”

Would it have been possible to send him back to Russia?

Gérald Darmanin has announced his intention to intensify deportations to Russia. “There are around sixty “S” files of Russian nationality,” he said, Saturday October 14. Among them, there are obviously people who come from Chechnya. The instructions we had, until now, was the systematic expulsion of these people who can be particularly dangerous. » The minister pleaded for a “systematic expulsion” of people identified as dangerous.

But French law prohibits returning an individual to his country of origin “if he establishes that his life or his freedom are threatened there”. Likewise, European law prohibits expulsions to countries that practice torture on political opponents or religious minorities.

Mr. Darmanin said he freed himself from these legal considerations by assuring that “it is better, sometimes, to be condemned by the ECHR [European Convention on Human Rights] and to protect the French”. But the country of origin must still accept his return.

Indeed, to expel from French territory a person in an irregular situation, and moreover without a valid passport from their country of origin, it is necessary to obtain a “consular pass”, allowing the person to travel . And as the Minister of the Interior specified, “diplomatic relations (…) between Russia and France being extremely limited, if not non-existent”, it will be necessary to convince Russia to accept the return of radicalized nationals. Russians.

Finally, even with an agreement for the return of a national between Paris and Moscow, one last obstacle remains. The absence of direct flights between France and Russia makes expulsion almost impossible; the authorities should obtain transit visas through third countries for the expelled person, but also for their escort.

On October 11, the Paris Court of Appeal had to release a Russian national, the administration responsible for providing a flight having been unable to find a solution to reach Russia, even with a stopover.