France: Rejected Somali asylum seeker steals a van and then hits 76-year-old man, tearing off his leg

French police patrol car. (AP Photo/Lewis Joly)
By Kristýna Čtvrtlíková
3 Min Read

A 23-year-old Somali migrant has been accused of stealing a van on Wednesday morning in Nice, near the Promenade des Anglais, and hitting a 76-year-old man, who remains in the hospital with his life hanging in the balance.

The suspect, Anouar Omar Said, remains in custody after he hit his victim at high speed, leaving his leg torn to the point that it needed to be amputated. The incident took place around 8 a.m. at Quai des États-Unis, a point on the Promenade des Anglais, which runs along the seafront.

“The stolen van had been on the sidewalk for the cleaning of the sanitary facilities on the beach,” explained the prosecution to AFP. “The man took advantage of the absence of its occupants to steal it before hitting the victim 200 meters away with full force.”

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Omar Said was arrested almost immediately by the police and taken into custody. By the afternoon, he still could not be understood because he was so intoxicated.

The victim was transported to the hospital in critical condition, with his leg so badly torn that doctors were forced to amputate the limb.

The alleged perpetrator, presenting himself as Somali, had entered French territory in Jan. 2021. His asylum request had been rejected on Jun. 7, a decision against which he had appealed. He was known to the judicial authorities for several common-law offenses. New information released this week shows that on May 13, the suspect was convicted of sexually harassing and stalking a female student; he had made inappropriate gestures, including mimicking sexual intercourse in front of her, and followed her on a street car. He defended himself in court by saying he was drunk during the incident, according to French news outlet Nice-Matin.

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The man was banned from the territory of France, but France also has the policy of not returning refugees to war zones, with Somalia officially recognized as such a region by the government. France has long had a lax immigration policy that has resulted in very few deportations, even for those with criminal convictions. France only expels about 15 percent of illegal immigrants.

Investigators are still working to determine whether the victim was potentially struck by the vehicle. The national anti-terrorism prosecutor’s office has been informed but has not claimed jurisdiction at this stage, said the Nice prosecutor’s office.

On Jul. 14, 2016, a truck driven by a 31-year-old Tunisian living in Nice killed 86 people and injured more than 400 others on the Promenade des Anglais.

Just this month in Germany, a German-Armenian man plowed his vehicle into a group of schoolchildren in Berlin, putting 14 of them in the hospital and killing a teacher accompanying the school group.

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