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In a shocking development in a case that stunned France last year, a schoolgirl has admitted she made up accusations against her former teacher that sparked a hate campaign, which led to his gruesome murder and sparked violent riots in the country.
What are the details?
Samuel Paty, a history teacher in west Paris, was beheaded last October by an 18-year-old Chechen Muslim refugee named Abdoullakh Anzorov, after controversy erupted over his alleged anti-Muslim classroom presentation during a lesson on free speech.
The 13-year-old student, whose identity has been protected, reportedly told her father that Paty showed degrading images of the Muslim prophet Muhammed in class. After learning of Paty's alleged behavior, the student's father filed a legal complaint and launched an internet campaign against the teacher, slamming Paty in Facebook and YouTube video uploads, claiming that the teacher showed cartoons of Muhammed with his genitals exposed.
The campaign set off a firestorm in the Muslim world, fomenting widespread anger towards Paty, who was murdered a mere 10 days after the accusations were first made. In addition to resulting in Paty's murder, the accusations also sparked violent riots across the country that led to the deaths of at least three others.
But now, the girl has reportedly confessed to police that she lied.
The girl's lawyer, Mbeko Tabula, confirmed on Monday that her client was not even in attendance at the class during which she alleged the incident took place.
"She lied because she felt trapped in a spiral because her classmates had asked her to be a spokesperson," Tabula further told the AFP news agency.
According to the French newspaper Le Parisien, the girl lied to her father to keep him from knowing that she had been suspended by the school for cutting class.
"She would not have dared to confess to her father the real reasons for her exclusion shortly before the tragedy, which was in fact linked to her bad behavior," the newspaper reported.
According to BBC, shortly after Paty's murder, prosecutors alleged that there was a "direct causal link" between the online hate campaign against the teacher and his eventual murder.
Now, the 13-year-old has been charged with slander and her father with being "complicit in a terrorist killing," the Independent reports. Though Tabula argues the girl should be protected and her father blamed for "excessive and disproportionate behavior."
The perpetrator, Anzorov, was tracked down by police and shot dead as he attempted to flee the scene. The French government characterized the incident as an Islamic terrorist attack.
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