Girl’s lie saw teacher beheaded on street
A French schoolgirl has admitted to making up a story about her teacher that resulted in him being beheaded on the street.
Samuel Paty, 47, was killed in October last year after the student claimed he asked Muslim students to leave the classroom when showed cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad during a lesson on freedom of speech.
At the time the 13-year-old girl, who has not been named, told her father that she had denied Mr Paty's request to leave and was suspended following her refusal.
For Muslims, depicting the Prophet is considered blasphemous.
After hearing his daughter's claims, the girl's father lodged a legal complaint and launched an online tirade against Mr Paty, where he shared the school's address while calling for "mobilisation" against the teacher.
Days later Mr Paty was stabbed to death and beheaded on the street by 18-year-old Russian national Abdullakh Anzorov.
Now, the schoolgirl at the centre of the incident has admitted to lying and spreading false claims about her teacher, her lawyer revealed.
"She lied because she felt trapped in a spiral because her classmates had asked her to be a spokesperson," her lawyer Mbeko Tabula told AFP.
It has since been revealed that the girl wasn't even present during Mr Paty's lesson because she had been suspended over her repeated absence from school, Le Parisien newspaper reported.
As he had done in previous free speech lessons over the years, Mr Paty warned his students that he was about to show a depiction of Muhammad. He said anyone that didn't want to see it could close their eyes, but didn't order Muslim students to leave the room, as the girl had claimed.
The images he showed were caricatures published by satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, which previously had sent waves of anger through the Islamic community.
In 2015, Islamic gunmen massacred 12 people who worked for the magazine.
In a leaked testimony, the girl claimed she made up the story in order to not disappoint her father.
She has since been charged with slander, while her father and another man, an Islamist preacher and campaigner, have been charged with "complicity in murder" over the killing.
"Everything in the investigation showed very early that she lied," the Paty family's lawyer Virginie Le Roy told RTL radio on Tuesday.
She said she was "sceptical" of the version of events recounted by the girl who has said she saw herself as a spokesperson for other pupils and wanted to impress her father.
"A spokesperson of what? Of lies, of events that never happened? This explanation does not convince me and makes me rather angry because the facts are serious, they're tragic," she added.
Ms Le Roy also claimed the girl's parents knew she had not been in class on the day of Mr Paty's class due to her suspension over her attendance record.
"So to come and say now, sorry, I believed my daughter's lies, that's really weak," she said.
HOW SICKING MURDER UNFOLDED
It is believed Islamic State supporter Abdullakh Anzorov tracked down Mr Paty after seeing the online campaign the girl's father has waged against the teacher.
Anzorov waited outside the school and asked students to identify Mr Paty before launching his attack, according to anti-terrorism officials.
Police were called to Eragny, in the northwestern suburbs of Paris, after Mr Paty's decapitated body was discovered last year.
When police arrived, Anzorov fired shots at the officers from an airgun and reportedly tried to stab the officers as they closed in.
The 18-year-old was shot nine times by police and later died of his injuries.
Sources close to the investigation have said that the assailant shouted "Allahu Akbar" before the police opened fire.
Before police arrived, Anzorov sent video and photos of the killing to fellow Russian-speaking IS supporters, which were being shared among pro-IS social media accounts.
A photo of Mr Paty's severed head was also uploaded to Twitter on an account which investigators have since confirmed belonged to Anzorov, with the 18-year-old confessing to the killing in the post.
"In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful. From Abdullah, the Servant of Allah, To Macron, the leader of the infidels, I executed one of your hellhounds who dared to belittle Mohammed, calm his fellows before you are inflicted harsh punishment," the Twitter post read.
Mr Paty's death sent shockwaves through France, prompting tens of thousands of people to fill the streets of Paris and cities across the country to show solidarity for the teacher.
Demonstrators at Paris's Place de la Republique held posters declaring: "No to totalitarianism of thought" and "I am a teacher" in memory of the murdered 47-year-old.
"You do not scare us. We are not afraid. You will not divide us. We are France!" tweeted Prime Minister Jean Castex, who joined the Paris demonstration.
Mr Castex was accompanied by Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer, Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo and Junior Interior Minister Marlene Schiappa who said she was there "in support of teachers, of secularism, of freedom of expression". Politicians from the other major parties also attended.
Some in the crowd chanted, "I am Samuel", echoing the "I am Charlie" cry that travelled after the Charlie Hebdo massacre.
Originally published as Girl's lie saw teacher beheaded on street