French police detain man over bullet threats to Sarkozy

21st September 2009, Comments 0 comments

French detectives on Sunday detained a man over threatening letters with bullets sent to President Nicolas Sarkozy and other leading politicians, a police source said.

The man, identified only as Thierry J., is a 51-year-old member of a gun club in the town of Herepian in southern France, the source said. He is expected to be transferred soon to an anti-terrorist division in Paris.

DNA tests on four of the letters received by Sarkozy and other government members linked the threats to the suspect, the source said.

The suspect, who has a disabled person's card, gave a DNA sample when he was interviewed as a witness last week.

Herepian's mayor Pierre Bernard described the suspect to AFP as "a frail person who didn't work and who railed a lot."

The letters were sent in the name of a group which named itself Cell 34.

In a search of the man's house carried out on Sunday, investigators found documents which indicated he was a member of Cell 34 and envelopes similar to those used for the threatening letters, a police source said.

Sarkozy summoned top law enforcement officers earlier this month to tell them to accelerate their investigation.

A series of subsequent questionings led to criticism of police methods in handling the case.

Investigators believed that the letters demanding a halt to France's expulsion of illegal immigrants and the release of a leader of the armed leftist group Action Directe came from left-wing extremists.


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