Openly gay Paris mayor stabbed in the stomach

By Advocate.com Editors

Originally published on Advocate.com October 07 2002 11:00 PM ET

Police in Paris on Monday extended questioning of the man who admitted stabbing openly gay Paris mayor Bertrand Delanoe at an all-night party at City Hall, prolonging his detention for 24 hours. Police identified the suspect as 39-year-old Azedine Berkane and said he told them on Sunday that he doesn't like politicians or homosexuals.

Delanoe, 52, was stabbed in the stomach at 2:30 a.m. Sunday in an ornate salon of Paris's city hall, which was open to the public for an all-night fete. He underwent surgery and was to remain hospitalized for about eight days. The attacker had suddenly lunged at Delanoe as he meandered through the crowd of hundreds of people. The mayor never lost consciousness and ordered the party to continue "until 8 a.m., as planned," according to his aides.

Berkane, an unemployed French man of Algerian descent, was immediately wrestled to the ground and arrested. "We didn't see him coming," Delanoe's communications director, Anne-Sylvie Schneider, was quoted as saying in the daily newspaper Liberation. "I thought he was punching [the mayor] in the stomach...[but] Bertrand Delanoe said, 'He knifed me.'" The suspect was to undergo a second psychiatric exam on Monday, according to France-Info radio. Judicial officials said he was to be placed under investigation--a step short of being charged--on Tuesday after his detention was prolonged for another 24 hours.

Berkane described himself as a practicing Muslim and said he views homosexuality as against nature, the judicial officials said. However, investigators said the suspect has no links to radical groups and that they are treating the attack as a common crime.