A 13-yaer-old French school student has confessed to lying about French history teacher Samuel Paty, which led to him being beheaded in an Islamist terror attack last year. Paty, 47, was beheaded in October after allegedly showing students cartoons of Prophet Muhammad, according to the girl's lawyer.
Following that, Paty was killed last October by a radical Chechen teenager. However, the unnamed girl has now admitted to police that she lied about being in the class and falsely accused Paty of asking Muslim children to leave the class while he showed the pictures. The latest twist in the tale might now change the entire course of investigation.
Lie of Death
According to a report in the French newspaper Le Parisien, the girl, identified only as Z, admitted that she wrongly accused Paty of asking Muslim students to leave the room before showing the images of Prophet Muhammad. She said that she was not in class that day and did not see the cartoons.
The girl further admitted that she did it in order to please her father and because she "felt trapped in a spiral because her classmates had asked her to be a spokesperson," according o her lawyer. The girl reportedly told her father that she was suspended for two days after she challenged the teacher for sending Muslim students into the hall while he showed the blasphemous image.
The girl's father, who has also been charged in connection with the murder, had posted several incendiary videos on Facebook based on his daughter's claims which identified Paty.
Early Signs of Lie
The girl's testimony at that time had sparked an online campaign against Paty. Finally, Paty was beheaded following public outrage in broad daylight by 18-year-old Abdullakh Anzorov, who was shot dead by police shortly after the attack.
Prosecutors said shortly after the killing that there was a "direct causal link" between the online incitement against Paty and his murder. Speaking on French radio on Tuesday, the Paty family's lawyer said the girl's family knew that she had not been in class on the day in question and why she had been suspended. "So to come and say now, sorry, I believed my daughter's lies, that's really weak," Virginie Le Roy told RTL radio.
The leaked testimony has now revealed that the girl was actually suspended the day before for failing to attend class and didn't want her father to know about the punishment, so she made up the story. Her lawyer, however, argued that the father should be the one blamed for the fallout due to his "excessive and disproportionate behavior," the Independent reported.
The killing of Paty shocked France and led to a fresh debate about freedom of speech, the integration of France's large Muslim population and the role of social media in whipping up hatred. The issue is particularly sensitive in France because of the decision by satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo to publish cartoons of the Prophet.
After Paty's murder, President Emmanuel Macron presented the teacher's family with the nation's highest honor, the Légion d'honneur.