Man who ran over Chinese students charged with attempted murder

Police vehicles in a street where a man "deliberately" rammed his car into three Chinese students in Blagnac near the southern French city of Toulouse on Nov 10, 2017. PHOTO: AFP

TOULOUSE, France (AFP) - A man who deliberately rammed his car into a group of pedestrians, injuring three Chinese students, was Sunday (Nov 12) charged with attempted murder and placed in temporary custody, a prosecutor said.

The 28-year-old, with a history of psychiatric problems, appeared before a judge in the southern city of Toulouse who placed him in custody, prosecutor Pierre-Yves Couilleau said, adding that the man maintained an initial claim that voices in his head sparked his action.

The prosecutor had indicated Friday (Nov 10) the incident was not terror related.

The suspect, a single man who lives with his mother in Blagnac, a suburb of Toulouse in southwestertn France, had previously suffered severe psychiatric problems and was released from a court-ordered hospital stay in December 2016.

Friday's incident hospitalised two of the students, in their early 20s, from the city's International Business School but the prosecutor said their condition was not serious.

Their fellow victim left hospital Friday as did a French student aged 23 who suffered shock after witnessing the incident.

The suspect has a criminal record including drugs and armed robbery which brought him two suspended sentences and an order to receive treatment, which he was complying with, according to the prosecutor.

The attack came days after China asked France to "ensure the security" of its nationals, who have been regular victims of thieves.

On Nov 2, a group of around 40 Chinese tourists were attacked with teargas and robbed outside a three-star hotel near Paris's Orly Airport.

On Friday a youth, 15 years old at the time of the attack, was sentenced in juvenile court to two years in prison for violently attacking and robbing a Chinese textile worker last year in the Paris suburb of Aubervilliers. The 49-year-old man died five days later of his injuries.

France has also been the target of a series of vehicle attacks by extremists inspired by the Islamic State group.

In July last year, a Tunisian man ploughed a 19-tonne truck into a crowd in the southern city of Nice, killing 86 people.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.