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Monday, 7 October, 2002, 12:02 GMT 13:02 UK
Psychiatric tests for anti-gay attacker
Azedine Berkane
Berkane is said to hate politicians and gay people
A homophobic man suspected of stabbing the mayor of Paris was being held for extended questioning by police on Monday.

Mayor Bertrand Delanoe, who is openly gay, is expected to spend at least a week in hospital after being stabbed in the stomach at a social event early on Sunday.

His suspected attacker, named as 39-year-old Azedine Berkane, has told police he does not like gay people or politicians.

I thought he was punching him in the stomach... but he said 'He knifed me'

Anne-Sylvie Schneider
Delanoe aide

He was also undergoing psychiatric examination on Monday, as investigators sought to piece together what led to the attack.

Mr Delanoe, 52, was attacked at about 0230 local time (1230GMT) at an all-night party being staged as part of a series of cultural events at Paris City Hall.

He needed emergency surgery, and is believed to have lost a lot of blood, but doctors said on Monday he was making progress.

He "spent a good night and his doctors are very reassuring," deputy mayor Anne Hidalgo told French radio.

Shocked aides watched in horror as the man lunged at Mr Delanoe as he mingled with guests at the Nuit Blanche (Sleepless Night) party.

"We didn't see him coming," the mayor's communications director, Anne-Sylvie Schneider, was quoting as saying in the Liberation newspaper.

"I thought he was punching him (the mayor) in the stomach ... (but) Bertrand Delanoe said, 'He knifed me'."

Mr Delanoe is reported to have remained conscious throughout the incident, ordering his staff to continue the party as planned until 0800.

Paris Mayor Bertrand Delanoe
Delanoe: Ordered staff to continue the party
Mr Berkane has previously received psychiatric treatment, sources close to the case said.

He is also said to have a number of previous arrests for offences of theft.

Judicial officials quoted by the Reuters news agency said Mr Berkane described himself as a practising Muslim who believed homosexuality was against nature.

The son of Algerian parents, he lives in the Paris suburb of Bobigny.

Questions were being raised about how the armed attacker was able to get inside the city hall, but the mayor's staff said he had wanted a party open to all.

City hall was not a "fortified castle hiding behind sentinels," said the deputy mayor.

"Bertrand Delanoe's choice was to have an open house."

Paris murders

The attack, which has left many in the city shocked, follows an attempt on Bastille Day in July to assassinate President Chirac.

Paris was also rocked in March when a man with a history of psychiatric problems shot and killed eight councillors at a meeting in the suburb of Nanterre.

Mr Delanoe publicly revealed his homosexuality in a television interview in 1998.

In March 2001 Paris voters chose him as their first left-wing mayor in 130 years.

He has undertaken a number of colourful city initiatives, including turning parts of the River Seine banks into a beach for the summer.

See also:

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