Explosive traces found on French suspect in Poland

23rd August 2004, Comments 0 comments

WARSAW, Aug 23 (AFP) - Investigators have found traces of explosive on the hands of a French photographer arrested this month in Poland on suspicion of preparing a terror attack, a Polish paper reported Monday.

WARSAW, Aug 23 (AFP) - Investigators have found traces of explosive on the hands of a French photographer arrested this month in Poland on suspicion of preparing a terror attack, a Polish paper reported Monday.

But the mayor from the suspect's hometown in south-eastern France said the arrest had likely been a "huge misunderstanding" and that French authorities were working to secure his release.

"Tests carried out with the aid of sophisticated equipment have confirmed the presence of traces of a very powerful explosive not only in the apartment but also on the hands of the 23-year-old Frenchman," the daily Rzeczpospolita said.

A spokesman for the security services, Dariusz Bogaczyk, said traces of what were suspected to be explosives had been found in the apartment but declined to confirm that they had been found on the suspect's hands.

"We discovered in the apartment where the suspect was staying traces of what could be explosives," the spokesman told AFP.

"An expert will give his opinion over the coming days and his opinion can be crucial for the follow up of the enquiry," he said.

The suspect, identified as Mickael Neyrolles, was arrested while taking pictures of a gas pumping station. He is under investigation for "preparing actions which can endanger human life and destroy property", officials said.

Gerard Manet, the mayor of the photographer's hometown Tartaras, said Neyrolles had been in Poland to take pictures of industrial sites for an exhibition linked to the jazz festival in a town south-west of Lyon.

"We hope that this is all a huge misunderstanding on the part of the Polish authorities, and the foreign and interior ministries are doing everything they can so that Mickael can be released as soon as possible," he said.

Rzeczpospolita said one common explosive, Trinitrotoluene or TNT, is also used in chemical manufacturing as an intermediate in the production of photographic chemicals.

Last week, a source close to the investigation said the man was an amateur photographer who belonged to a photo club in central France, and said there was no reason to think that he was of north African origin, as had been speculated in the Polish popular press.

The Polish daily Gazeta Wyborcza said Neyrolles was on his way back from a photo expedition in China and Mongolia and was staying at the home of a Polish citizen he had met two years earlier in France.

"They said he was a Muslim and he is not. Now they supposedly found traces of explosive on him and at the home of his girlfriend, who is a Polish beautician... I'm a bit cautious," Manet said in a telephone interview.

As one of the leading supporters of the US-led invasion of Iraq, Poland has been ultra-sensitive about the possibility of a terror attack since receiving warnings from a group claiming links with Al-Qaeda that it faced attack unless it withdrew its 2,500 soldiers in Iraq.

Ewa Socha, the official following the matter at the public prosecutor's office in the western city of Poznan, told AFP last week that authorities "had sufficient information at our disposal to be able to arrest him for three months."

Rzeczpospolita last week said the man was suspected of "having prepared the ground to blow up the pumping station." But the French mayor retorted: "It's a huge misunderstanding - the Poles are living in obsessive fear of an attack."

© AFP

Subject: French news

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