Knife attack in Annecy: Abdelmasih H. indicted for assassination attempts

As his police custody ended on Saturday June 10, two days after the knife attack on young children in Annecy, the suspect Abdelmasih H

Knife attack in Annecy: Abdelmasih H. indicted for assassination attempts

As his police custody ended on Saturday June 10, two days after the knife attack on young children in Annecy, the suspect Abdelmasih H. was indicted for "attempted assassinations" and "rebellion with weapons “After being brought before two investigating judges, announced the public prosecutor, Line Bonnet-Mathis.

The man, who was also brought before a liberty and detention judge on Saturday morning, has been remanded in custody. He did not wish to speak before the investigating magistrates and had previously "refused" to do so "throughout his custody" of forty-eight hours, according to the prosecutor. Given this lack of statements, the motives of the indicted have not yet been clearly established.

The Annecy prosecutor explained that witnesses heard said that the assailant had "mentioned his wife, his daughter and pronounced the name of Jesus Christ" during the attack. When he was arrested, he was carrying the folding knife that was used in the attack, two Christian images, a cross around his neck, a Swedish driving license and 480 euros in cash. Ms. Bonnet-Mathis reiterated that at this stage of the investigation "no terrorist motivation" was retained. The Annecy prosecutor's office remains in contact with the National Anti-Terrorism Prosecutor's Office (PNAT). The investigation will focus on the environment, background and personality of the suspect, she added.

No more victims in absolute emergency

As for the six victims, including four very young children, affected by the suspect's stab wounds in the gardens of Europe in Annecy on Thursday morning, five of whom had been hospitalized in serious condition, they are no longer in a vital emergency, but remain hospitalized, said the prosecutor.

Among the injured children, two are French and from Haute-Savoie: one, born in February 2021, was the victim of two stab wounds to the chest and abdominal area. A girl born in August 2020 and also from Haute-Savoie was hospitalized in a life-threatening emergency after suffering three chest wounds. A third little girl, of British nationality, born in March 2020, hospitalized in absolute emergency, should be discharged from the hospital in the coming days.

The fourth little girl, in absolute emergency and of Dutch nationality, was hospitalized in Geneva: she suffered three wounds, but none in the vital area. Finally, a man of French nationality born in 1947 was slightly injured in the elbow and was able to return to his home. Another adult, who suffered multiple stab wounds and a gunshot wound, is also no longer in dire need.

"Absence of frank delusional elements"

Thursday, the magistrate had already estimated that the motivations of the suspect seemed devoid of "apparent terrorist motive", adding that she could not "exclude at this stage a senseless act". Since his arrest, the 31-year-old assailant has therefore given no explanation and has "obstructed police custody", in particular by "rolling on the ground".

The suspect was twice examined by a doctor, the district attorney said, adding that drug and alcohol tests were negative. On his state of psychiatric health, the psychiatrist who examined him pronounced an "absence of frank delusional elements", according to Ms. Bonnet-Mathis, but he considered that it was still too early to make the diagnosis of a mental illness or not.

Under "subsidiary protection" in Sweden since 2013

Born in 1991, Abdelmasih H. left Syria after the outbreak of civil war, which broke out in his country in March 2011. Mobilized in the army, he had deserted to go to Turkey, according to his mother, where he had met his future wife, Syrian like him. The couple reportedly left for Sweden in 2013, where they were granted political asylum in November of that year.

Although he has benefited from "subsidiary protection" in Sweden since November 2013 and had a residence permit valid until 2025, Abdelmasih H. has several times failed to be naturalized Swedish, unlike his wife. He left Sweden before receiving the answer to his last naturalization application, "eight months ago", according to his estranged wife and with whom he has a child, now 3 years old.

According to the French authorities, he was traveling in a regular situation in France, which is why the police let him go after having checked him on Sunday because he was washing in the waters of Lake Annecy, according to the Minister of the interior.

The man passed through Italy and Switzerland before arriving in France on October 26, 2022, where his asylum application was rejected on the grounds that he already had protection in Sweden. He was notified by email on June 4, according to the prosecutor. Asked about the link between the refusal of the asylum request and the acting out of the aggressor four days later, the Minister of the Interior, Gérald Darmanin, had mentioned Friday a "troubling coincidence".


In a rare exchange with his ex-wife after his departure, Abdelmasih H. explained to her that he lived "in a church" in France. It was four months ago. In Annecy, he was homeless. According to the prosecutor, he lived in the common areas of a building in the city center. According to the Director General of the French Office for Immigration and Integration (OFII), Didier Leschi, "he had been receiving the asylum seeker's allowance since he registered as such", but , for lack of space, he "has never been taken care of for accommodation in the national reception system".

According to his mother, Abdelmasih H. suffered from "serious depression" and his failures to obtain a Swedish passport made his condition worse. "My daughter-in-law told me that," she told AFP. "She said he was never well, always depressed, with dark thoughts, he didn't want to leave the house, he didn't want to work..." At the time of the tragedy, he was "neither under the influence narcotics or under the influence of alcohol", according to the prosecutor of Annecy. In his application to Ofpra, he presented himself as a "Christian from Syria", according to a police source.

The attack, which occurred in public and in broad daylight, deeply traumatized Annecy, a usually peaceful town. Shocked, hundreds of people marched all day Friday and Saturday morning in front of the small playground, the site of the attack, to gather and lay flowers.