French police station attacker made Swiss asylum claim

Six prestigious schools in central Paris are evacuated after anonymous calls claim that bombs had been hidden in the buildings (AFP Photo/Lionel Bonaventure)

Geneva (AFP) - The man shot dead after trying to attack a Paris police station last week applied for asylum in Switzerland before being shunted back to Italy, Swiss police said Wednesday.

The news came three days after the German interior minister said the man had been an asylum seeker since 2011 and had a criminal past.

"At the behest of French authorities, fedpol (Swiss police) has looked into the identity of the individual shot dead on January 7 after attacking a police station in Paris," said police spokeswoman Anne-Florence Debois.

"He applied for asylum in January 2013. This request was turned down and the man was sent back to Italy in June 2013," Debois said.

Fedpol said it was still investigating the case of the man while Swiss authorities added there was no evidence he engaged in "terrorist activities" while in Switzerland.

After comparing fingerprint records, the Tunisian authorities meanwhile confirmed to French investigators the man was Tunisian national Tarek Belgacem.

His fingerprints matched those of a man investigated for a 2013 burglary in Luxembourg.

German police earlier this week said the man had spent time living in an asylum seekers hostel in western Germany -- some media reports alleged he had posed as a Syrian national -- and had spent four years criss-crossing Europe.

German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said Sunday he had a "criminal past."

Police gunned the man down after he tried to attack the police station in northern Paris armed with a meat cleaver and wearing a fake suicide vest.

Police found a handwritten note on his body in which he pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group.

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