A third of people radicalised in France have mental health problems, a government minister has revealed.
Gérard Collomb, French interior minister, was speaking after a van was rammed into bus stops in Marseille on Monday (August 21), killing one woman.
Investigators said those incidents – which came just days after deadly attacks in Catalonia – did not have a link with terrorism.
“It is not terrorism,” said Collomb. “But we do have imitation. A certain number of people with weak minds can train themselves to mimic the acts [of terrorists].”
Collomb revealed around a third of the 17,400 people on French intelligence services’ radicalisation radar have mental health issues.
He said the man suspected of ramming a van into bus stops in Marseille had been in a psychiatric clinic.
“It’s clear that medical confidentiality is something sacred but, at the same time, we should find a way to stop a certain number of individuals – who suffer from serious [mental health] issues – from being able to commit attacks,” said Collomb.
He now wants to mobilise psychiatric hospitals and psychiatrists to help identify the profiles of people who could go on to carry out attacks such as Marseille.
Earlier this month a 32-year-old man drove his car into a pizzeria in Sept-Sorts, 56 kilometres east of Paris, killing a 12-year-old girl and injuring a dozen people.
A first psychiatric assessment did not reveal anything that should mean he should not stand trial, but police said he had consumed a large amount of tablets before carrying out the attack on August 14.