Nice: The Tunisian-born man who drove a truck through crowds celebrating Bastille Day had a promiscuous sex life, drank alcohol, took drugs and not practice Islam, but did show an interest in the so-called Islamic State in the weeks leading up to his murderous rampage and grew a beard for “religious reasons,” the French prosecutor said.
Francois Molins said the attack was premeditated and Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel visited the Promenade des Anglais in the days before July 14. Bouhlel took selfies at the site where he would carry out his crime and was caught twice on surveillance cameras practising the route he would take.
The prosecutor said Bouhlel had told people close to him that he had been growing his beard for religious reasons and that he could not understand why Islamic State could not have its own territory.
“If there are no elements in the investigation to suggest at this stage an allegiance to Islamic State nor links with individuals from the group … he showed a certain recent interest for radical jihadist movements,” Mr Molins said.
Bouhlel’s neighbours described the attacker as “very, very beautiful” with Mediterranean looks who wore so much perfume you could tell by the smell when he was in his rental apartment in the eastern district of Abbatoir.
Jasmine, 49, told Fairfax Media she did not speak to Bouhlel but said she was not sure if he hung out with other female neighbours.
Prime Minister booed at memorial
The Bastille Day attack is the third mass terrorist attack in France in 19 months and is fuelling dissatisfaction in the socialist government. Crowds booed Prime Minister Manuel Valls as he visited the public memorial service on the promenade on Monday local-time.
As part of France’s ongoing investigation into the Bastille Day massacre, authorities detained three additional suspects Sunday, including an Albanian man and woman suspected of supplying Bouhlel with weapons before the attack.
Family of Australian survivor asks media for privacy
The family of 22-year old Sydney woman Adelaide Stratton thanked the “wonderful stranger” who helped their daughter on the night of the attack. Ms Stratton was travelling with friends and became separated from them when the attack happened.
Speaking on behalf of Ms Stratton’s family, friend Debbie Cook thanked those who have offered their “thoughts and prayers.”
“We’d like to send our condolences to all the families who’ve lost loved ones in this truly awful attack and to other families, like us, who are dealing with its aftermath,” Ms Cook said.
“We’d like to thank the staff caring for our daughter at Hospital Pasteur, along with the French emergency service personnel and the wonderful stranger who helped Adelaide on the night. We also want to thank Adelaide’s former boss for his assistance here in Nice and her travelling companions.”
The family also pleaded with the media to leave their daughter alone until she has recovered.
“Like any family, we want our vibrant 22-year-old to bounce back from this awful experience and continue on with the wonderful life she has ahead of her.
“To do that, she needs time to recover and at this stage, we don’t think media exposure is in her best interests. We also think it’s only fair that Adelaide has a say in how much media exposure she is comfortable with. Until she has recovered, we would appreciate it if you would respect her privacy and ours.”