A Paris judge questions 3 men suspected of 'psychological violence' at Eiffel Tower

French prosecutors say three people have been released from custody pending further investigation after they allegedly placed five coffins at the foot of the Eiffel Tower

Credit: AP

Credit: AP

PARIS (AP) — Three people were released from custody Monday pending further investigation after they allegedly placed five coffins at the foot of the Eiffel Tower, a Paris landmark that will feature prominently in the upcoming Olympic Games.

According to officials at the Paris prosecutor’s office, the three — citizens of Bulgaria, Germany and Ukraine — placed the coffins, covered with a French flag that included an inscription reading “French soldiers of Ukraine," near the Eiffel Tower on Saturday,

The motive for the incident was unclear. France is on its highest alert level ahead of the July 26-Aug. 11 Summer Games in Paris and the lavish open-air ceremony on the River Seine.

On Monday, the three men were questioned by an investigative judge. The prosecutor’s office asked that they be charged with premeditated violence, the officials told the Associated Press. Placing coffins at the foot of the Paris landmark that millions of tourists visit every year “is considered an act of psychological violence," and caused employees of the landmark and others "an inability to work,” the officials said. They spoke on condition of anonymity because of a pending investigation.

The investigating judge didn't file charges, however, but named the three as assisted witnesses, a special status under French law, the prosecutor's office said. They will remain free pending further investigation.

Those detained in the Eiffel Tower incident include the driver of the vehicle that transported the coffins, a 39-year-old Bulgarian, as well as two people associated with him — a 25-year-old German man and a 16-year-old Ukrainian, who was arrested aboard a Paris-Berlin bound Flixbus, the officials said.

On Friday, French authorities raised preliminary terrorism charges against an 18-year-old accused of plotting to target spectators at soccer games at the Paris Olympics. It was the first such thwarted plot targeting the Games, which start in eight weeks.

The Olympic rings will be displayed on the Eiffel Tower. The Olympic and Paralympic medals in Paris are being embedded with pieces from a hexagonal chunk of iron taken from the monument.

The Eiffel Tower coffins appeared after other strange incidents in recent months worrying French authorities.

Last month, graffiti showing red hands appeared on the Holocaust Memorial in Paris. And in October, soon after the start of the Israel-Hamas war, stencils of blue Stars of David appeared on Paris buildings.

French authorities accused Russian security services of stirring up controversy around the stars. French Foreign Minister Stephane Sejourne said both incidents involved people paid to destabilize and drive wedges in French society.

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Surk reported from Nice, France.

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