Suspect linked to killer of French police couple released

Versailles (France) (AFP) - Investigators have released a man held briefly Tuesday for his links to the jihadist killer of a police commander and his partner, saying they would not charge him at this stage.

The 41-year-old convicted jihadist had been arrested in Les Mureaux, a town west of Paris, where police carried out six raids looking for associates of Larossi Abballa, shot dead by police after he killed the couple on June 13.

A conspiracy investigation has been opened to determine whether surveillance was carried out on a police event in the region ahead of the murders, the local prosecutor said.

"There are no charges against him at this stage," the Versailles prosecutor told AFP, adding: "The investigation continues."

The man, a Moroccan, was convicted in 2007 and jailed for eight years for his role in bombings claimed by Al-Qaeda that killed 33 people in Casablanca, Morocco, in 2003.

He was stripped of his French nationality in a move that was upheld earlier this month.

Police officer Jean-Baptiste Salvaing and civil police employee Jessica Schneider were stabbed to death at their home in Magnanville, also west of the French capital.

Abballa, 25, killed Salvaing before taking Schneider hostage and slitting her throat. Her three-year-old son who was in the house was traumatised but unharmed.

Tuesday's raids "were carried out to verify reports saying that a group of people, including some with ties to Abballa, wanted to attack police officers. But at this stage there is no proven link with last week's attack," he said earlier.

Two other people were targeted in the police raids, including one who knew Abballa, but were not arrested, police said.

Abballa pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group in a live Facebook video and urged fellow jihadists to carry out more bloodshed.

Two other men linked to Abballa were charged and detained by an anti-terror court on Saturday.

Saad Rajraji, 27, and Charaf-Din Aberouz, 29, were charged with having links to a terrorist group, but were not found to have any connection to the murder of the police couple.

The two men had been convicted along with Abballa in September 2013 as part of a network to send jihadists to Pakistan, sources close to the investigation said.

The attack was the first of its kind in France since a group of IS gunmen and suicide bombers killed 130 people in Paris in November 2015.