Marseille: A Jewish teacher in France is to face trial in April for allegedly lying to police by claiming he was attacked by three Islamic State jihadists, a prosecutor said today. The teacher, Tsion Sylvain Saadoun, is charged with "false accusation of an imaginary crime", said Brice Robin, prosecutor in the southern city of Marseille.
In November, just days after a devastating IS attack in Paris that left 130 people dead, Saadoun invited press to his home in Marseille, claiming he had been attacked with a knife by three men who said they were tied to IS.
"After a particularly thorough investigation, it emerged that the statements of the so-called victim of an attempted murder were neither backed up by emergency services who intervened, nor by forensic experts," Robin said. He said any injuries were believed to be due to "self-mutilation".
However Saadoun maintains he is telling the truth. He has given a detailed account of the incident to police, and told AFP two men armed with knives had attacked him after asking whether he was Jewish or Muslim. He said they had shown him a picture of Mohamed Merah — who killed Jewish children and soldiers in the city of Toulouse in 2012 — as well as an IS T-shirt, and threatened to kill him. Saadoun said a third attacker then arrived on a scooter and filmed the incident.
"He is really saddened that he is not believed," said his lawyer Karine Sabbah. Saadoun is not the only French teacher to be accused of lying about an IS attack. In January, a nursery school teacher was sent for psychiatric tests after admitting he lied about an attack in his classroom.
The 45-year-old man in Aubervilliers, northeast of Paris, initially said a man had burst into his classroom and cut him with a box cutter and scissors. But he later admitted inventing the story and cutting himself on the neck and side.
There is no doubt however over another attack in Marseille in January, when a teacher wearing a Jewish skullcap was set upon by a self-radicalised teenager.