The gunman who attacked passengers on a high-speed train in France a couple of days ago is “dumbfounded” at having been taken for an Islamist militant and says he only intended to rob people on board because he was hungry, his lawyer said on Sunday.
As details emerged of the gunman’s early adult life in Spain, lawyer Sophie David said her client now in detention near Paris also looked ill and malnourished.
French and Spanish sources close to the case identified him as a 26-year-old Moroccan named Ayoub el Khazzani who was known to European authorities as a suspected Islamist militant.
“He is dumbfounded by the terrorist motives attributed to his action,” she added.
David said the man was barefoot and wore only a hospital shirt and boxer shorts for the police interrogation in Arras, northern France, where the train stopped after the incident.
The Moroccan told David he had found the Kalashnikov he had taken onto the train in a park near the Gare du Midi rail station in Brussels where he was in the habit of sleeping.
“A few days later he decided to get on a train that some other homeless people told him would be full of wealthy people traveling from Amsterdam to Paris and he hoped to feed himself by armed robbery,” David said.
The lawyer said the Moroccan had untreated wounds on his face when he spoke to her through an interpreter. He also told David he did not think he had fired any shots before his gun jammed.
French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve however, said on Saturday there had been “several shots” before the Moroccan was subdued by the passengers, who included three Americans.