, Paris November 21- France said Thursday the suspect arrested over this week’s shootings in Paris is a man previously jailed for his role in a “Bonnie and Clyde” style multiple murder that gripped the country 20 years ago.
Abdelhakim Dekhar was arrested on Wednesday after a major manhunt following a shooting at the left-wing newspaper Liberation and at the headquarters of the Societe Generale bank.
His DNA matched samples from the scenes of the attacks, officials said.
“All the evidence today points to his involvement in the events that he has been charged with,” Interior Minister Manuel Valls said in a late night press conference.
Dekhar, who is in his late 40s, was convicted in 1998 of buying a gun used in an October 1994 shooting attack by student Florence Rey and her lover Audry Maupin. Three policemen and a taxi driver were killed in a case that shook France.
He served four years in jail for his role in the killings.
Dekhar was arrested Wednesday evening in a vehicle in an underground parking lot in the northwestern Paris suburb of Bois Colombes, after apparently trying to commit suicide.
Valls said that “everything appears to point to a suicide attempt”, and sources told AFP Dekhar was semi conscious when he was found.
The head of the Paris criminal police department, Christian Flaesch, said he was in custody in a “medical environment” and was not in a fit state to speak to investigators.
Police tested Dekhar’s DNA against samples taken at the sites of this week’s shootings and announced early Thursday that the samples matched.
Earlier DNA tests confirmed that a single person was responsible for the series of incidents across Paris in the last week, which also included the hijacking of a car on the famed Champs Elysees and threats to staff at a 24-hour television station.
Valls said investigators would need more information about the suspect’s past to be able to “understand his motivation”.
‘I’ve made a stupid mistake’
The arrest came after a witness statement to police, who had on Tuesday released a new photograph of the suspect and received hundreds of calls from potential witnesses.
One of them was a man who had housed the suspect, said a source connected with the investigation.
The witness quoted the suspect as saying about the shooter case: “I’ve made a stupid mistake.”
The shooter opened fire with a 12 gauge shotgun at the offices of Liberation early on Monday, hitting a 23 year old photographer’s assistant as he hauled gear in the lobby, then firing another blast that hit the roof before leaving within seconds.
He then crossed the city to the La Defense business district on its western edge, where he fired several shots outside the main office of the Societe Generale bank, hitting no one.
He hijacked a car and forced the driver to drop him off near the Champs Elysees in the centre of the French capital, before disappearing.
Police say he was the same man who last Friday stormed into the Paris headquarters of a 24 hour TV news channel, BFMTV, briefly threatening staff with a gun before hurrying out.
Dekhar was suspected of being the third man in the so called Rey Maupin affair in 1994, which shocked France.
Investigators at the time compared the young couple to the infamous American outlaws Bonnie and Clyde.
Witnesses at the trial in 1998 described him as a mentor to the couple and accused him of exploiting their youth to manipulate them.
He argued that he had been a secret agent in the pay of Algerian security services, charged with infiltrating the radical left in France in search of those acting in coordination with Islamists in Algeria.
In the early 1990s Dekhar was known to hang out at squats used by left wing radicals and which were often under police surveillance.
Maupin died of injuries sustained during a shootout with police and Rey, a middle class student hitherto unknown to the police, was tried and sentenced to 20 years in jail. She was released in 2009.
Dekhar was acquitted of armed assault but found guilty of procuring the weapon and sentenced to four years. He was released soon afterwards, having already served his time in pre-trial detention.
Valls said that Dekhar had “probably gone abroad” for several years after serving his sentence and did not appear in official records for that period.
This week’s attacks set off a major manhunt and raised concerns about violence against media outlets.
The photographer, who suffered wounds to the chest and stomach, appeared to be in better condition on Wednesday.
Hospital officials said he had regained consciousness and was no longer on an artificial respirator.