Interview with Nicole Klein, Prefect of Loire-Atlantique
Nicole Klein: "They came out shouting:" Allahu Akbar! "I made my decision"
INTERVIEW - Prefect of Loire-Atlantique, Nicole Klein was stationed in Seine-Maritime at the time of the assassination of Father Hamel on July 26, 2016. She gave the order to shoot the two Islamists.
How does one decide on such an order? Alone?
I think these radical young Islamists wanted to die. They came out shouting "Allahu Akbar!" I took my decision. I do not take pride in it. The device consisted of BRI and BAC. The departmental director of public security coordinated him, in the presence of the regional director of the PJ. He called me to ask me what to do. I thought the conditions were right and we had enough people to act. The procedure was followed. I did my job.
It was not necessary to ask Bernard Cazeneuve?
No. However, beyond the territorially competent prefect, the director general of the national police informed the minister. He knew minute by minute what was happening. But the decision fell on me, as the person responsible for public order in my department. It's the role of a prefect.
Could we have avoided the tragedy? How do you live this episode today?
We made a return of experience between prefects, at the end of May, in Nantes. One of the two terrorists, Abdel Malik Petitjean, was unknown to us, but not the second, Adel Kermiche. It was filed S. His name was mentioned in the security meetings that I chaired each week, when we reviewed who might pose a risk. But no sign of precursor was raised. The place of the attack was totally improbable: a small church at the bottom of a village, five people at mass. The judge had held that Kermiche was eligible for parole. And he went out on the appointed day, at the appointed hour. How to predict?
Is this case the one that will leave you with the most traces?
Undeniably. I left the ENA in 1987, I have a certain seniority in the career of prefect and I lived a difficult business, but this act of barbarism was unsustainable. That's why I had no hesitation. Moreover, quite rare to be underlined, no one has disputed the decision taken.