Sudanese refugee stabs French immigration officer to death

A Sudanese refugee stabbed an immigration officer to death in southern France after learning his asylum request had been rejected.

Cyril Pierreval, a 46-year-old father of one, was killed on Friday by a 38-year-old Sudanese knifeman who faced deportation. 

The migrant attacked the head of the refugee welcome centre in the city of Pau around 11am, local media reported.

The officer, a father-of-one, was found in his office with multiple stab wounds to his chest and died a short time later.

Police told BMFTV that the migrant was known to them for acts of violence, and had been jailed twice in 2017 for armed assault. 

A Sudanese migrant, 38, stabbed to death the chief of a refugee welcome centre in the French city of Pau (pictured) today after learning his asylum application had been rejected

The killer – who has not been named – was among a large group of men displaced from Calais over the past five years, where they had hoped to get across the Channel to the UK.

They were instead taken by bus to the Isard Welcome Centre, in the South West city of Pau, some 650 miles away, where they were given the chance to claim asylum in France.

‘It was one of these men who killed Cyril, who was in charge of the centre’ said an investigating source.

‘The attacker came into the centre just before 11am and said he had a meeting with Cyril. Others in the building then heard screams, and called the police.

‘Officers found the victim lying on the ground, and covered in ten knife wounds, including one in the neck. Despite emergency treatment, he died of his wounds.’

The attacker was overpowered by other staff, and held in a separate room until police were able to arrest him, under suspicion of murder using a kitchen knife.

Police officers stand at the entrance of the Isard COS Reception Centre for Asylum Seekers (CADA) in Pau, southern France where the officer was stabbed to death by an asylum seeker

Police officers stand at the entrance of the Isard COS Reception Centre for Asylum Seekers (CADA) in Pau, southern France where the officer was stabbed to death by an asylum seeker

François Bayrou, the Mayor of Pau, confirmed the attacker’s latest claim for asylum in France had just been rejected, and that he faced prison before deportation.

‘This is a terrible tragedy, all the more because the victim spent his entire professional life helping migrants and asylum seekers,’ said Mr Bayrou.

‘The man’s asylum request had been rejected, and for good reasons. He then turned against the head of the service, this is extreme and absurd violence.’

In an interview in 2017, Mr Pierreval had complained of the short deadlines for asylum seekers, and the lack of translators made available to them.

‘Requests are made in haste,’ Mr Pierreval said at the time. ‘One of our big concerns is the lack of quality interpreters.’

Gerard Darmanin, France’s Interior Minister, attended the scene of the crime late on Friday afternoon, and offered his ‘sincere condolences’ to the victim’s family and loved ones.

Pictured: Pau's mayor Francois Bayrou described the attack as 'extreme and absurd violence'

Pictured: Pau’s mayor Francois Bayrou described the attack as ‘extreme and absurd violence’

The assailant arrived from Sudan in 2015, and was originally among a large group of Africans trying to get to Britain, said an investigating source.

At the time, there were thousands of UK-bound migrants sleeping rough in Calais, where there was a vast camp dubbed The Jungle.

It was razed to the ground in 2016, and all of its inhabitants dispersed to Welcome Centres across France, including the one in Pau.

The Pau attacker was arrested in 2017 for ‘acts of violence’ and spent time in prison, but was not known to the intelligence services, and had no known links to terrorism.

He was living freely in council accommodation in Pau, said the investigating source.

On Friday night, Pau Prosecutor Cécile Gensac said the man was in custody and facing a murder charge.

Raphaël Diaz, director general of the asylum foundation that Mr Pierreval worked for, said: ‘We are all deeply affected today by the sudden death of our colleague Cyril. Cyril was a really very experienced professional.’

The refugee welcome centre in Pau provides support services for recently arrived migrants, including housing. 

Workers said the head of the centre had agreed to meet with the man in his office after his asylum application was rejected, before being attacked.

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