TWO Englishmen remained in a “critical state” in a Paris hospital today as the man who used them as human shields before attacking them with a knife appeared in court for the first time.
Lawyers for the accused, who carried a passport claiming he was an Afghan immigrant called Shafiullah Mir Zaman Noorzada, 31, tried to claim he was too psychologically disturbed for a criminal trial.
But examining magistrates denied the application, meaning Noorzada was taken to a closed hearing at the Paris Correctional Court.
There he was expected to be formally charged with multiple attempts at murder, and to be remanded in custody.
It was the first time that the man, said to be a homeless crack cocaine addict, had left his hospital bed since Sunday – the day of the savage attack in which seven people were wounded.
Noorzada used a 15-inch kitchen knife and an iron bar in the series of assaults beside a canal in the north of the French capital.
The 56 and 53-year-old Englismen, who had been enjoying a relaxing weekend in Paris, were used as ‘human shield’ against petanque players who were throwing metal boules at Noorzada’s head.
While their condition remains “critical”, a 24-year-old who was stabbed in the skull has life-threatening injuries, and is in intensive care, said a source close to the enquiry. None of the victims have yet been named publicly.
The source said Noorzada’s documents have not been verified, and that he might have travelled using other identities, including that of a minor.
In recent weeks he had become known in Paris’s 19th arrondissement – an area notorious for down and outs using heroin and other hard drugs.
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The source said: “He has mental problems, and relied on cocaine he could smoke. He had not been in trouble with the police before, but had been acting erratically.
“At present he denies all knowledge of what happened on Sunday, saying he can’t remember where he was or what he was doing.”
Toxicology tests are being used to establish whether Noorzada was under the influence of cocaine when he carried out the attack.
It took place just before 11pm on Sunday, on the Loire Quay, by the Villette Canal Basin, on a particularly warm evening.
Examining judges have opened an enquiry for multiple acts of attempted murder, meaning Noorzada will be placed in prison on remand once he leaves hospital.
The stabbings came in the wake of a series of similar crimes carried out by terrorists affiliated to Islamic State.
Despite this, terrorism has been ruled out in the Noorsada case, with violence caused by drug use currently seen as the main reason for what happened.
In August, Islamic State claimed responsibility after a 36-year-old man with mental health problems stabbed his mother and sister to death in the Paris suburb of Trappes before he was himself shot dead by police.
An Egyptian national on a tourist visa was shot by soldiers at the Paris Louvre museum after rushing a patrol with a machete in February 2017. He too was linked to Isis, and remains in custody.