20, March 2017
Blood tests have revealed that a man, who was shot dead after taking a soldier hostage at Paris’ Orly Airport, was under the influence of drugs and alcohol. Investigators are still trying to understand what motivated Saturday’s assault by 39-year-old Ziyed Ben Belgacem, which led to a major security scare and the temporary closure of the capital’s second-busiest airport.
“Toxicology tests carried out on Sunday showed an alcohol level of 0.93 grams per liter in his blood, and the presence of cannabis and cocaine,” said a judicial source on Sunday. A subsequent police search of Belgacem’s flat found cocaine, Paris prosecutor Francois Molins said. Ben Belgacem, who was born in France to Tunisian parents, reportedly grabbed a soldier on patrol at Orly’s southern terminal on Saturday morning.
The attacker, who had also fired at police in a northern Paris suburb earlier that morning, was shot dead by two other soldiers after a scuffle. Speaking on Sunday, Ben Belgacem’s father insisted that his son was “not a terrorist” and that his actions were caused by drink and drugs.
“He called me at seven, eight in the morning and said, ‘There you go, Papa.’ He was extremely angry, even his mother couldn’t understand him,” he told Europe 1 radio. “He told me: ‘I ask for your forgiveness. I’ve screwed up with a gendarme.'”
The attack at Orly comes with France still on high alert following a wave of attacks that have claimed more than 230 lives in two years. The violence has made security a key issue in France’s two-round presidential election on April 23 and May 7.