Strasbourg terrorStrasbourg attack suspect has criminal past in Germany

Published 12 December 2018

Cherif Chekatt, 29, the suspect in the Tuesday’s Strasbourg terror attack, has a criminal record in France, Germany, and Switzerland, and spent time in German and French jails. French investigators say the suspect was radicalized in prison and was on a watch list.

The fugitive suspected gunman who killed three people and wounded at least thirteen in an attack on Strasbourg’s Christmas market had previously spent time in German, Swiss, and French prisons on robbery charges, court documents seen by DW show.

Cherif Chekatt, 29, was sentenced by a district court in the southern German city of Singen in June 2016 to two years and three months in prison for the 2012 burglary of a dental clinic in Mainz, near Frankfurt, and a pharmacy in Engen in southern Baden-Württemberg in 2016.

The verdict from the Singen regional court shows Chekatt. stole around $9,408 in cash, gold, and postal stamps from the robbery in Mainz and another €315 through the raid on the pharmacy. DNA evidence left at the scene of the crime in Mainz and video footage from Engen linked him to the crimes.

A spokesperson from the Baden-Württemberg state Justice Ministry told DW that Chekatt was deported to France in February 2017, around eight months after his June 2016 sentencing. The six months he spent in pretrial detention applied towards his time served.

DW reports that according to the court verdict, Chekatt grew up with six siblings at his parents’ house in Strasbourg, where he was born. He attended school there until the age of 16 and graduated from secondary school but did not pursue further technical training.

After school, he was employed by the local authorities but since 2011 was unemployed and had spent time traveling. He did not consume either illegal drugs or alcohol, according to his own statements to investigators.

In 2008, he was convicted to two years in prison by a French court for multiple burglaries and served out part of the sentence. In 2013 he was convicted in Basel, Switzerland, and sentenced to one year and six months for a string of burglaries.

French investigators say Chekatt, who is of North African descent, was radicalized in prison and had been on a watch list as a potential security risk.