My 'lamb' is innocent, insists mother of teen Abdel-Malik Petitjean who murdered Normandy priest
The distraught mother of Abdel-Malik Petitjean has said she "cannot believe" her son was one of the Islamist terrorists responsible for the slaughter of an 82-year-old priest in a Normandy church.
Petitjean (19) was positively identified as one of the killers through DNA analysis.
He was disfigured when he was shot by French security forces as he and an accomplice left the church at Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray, where they cut the throat of Fr Jacques Hamel.
"My son is not a devil," Yasmina Boukezzoula told the France-Bleu radio station.
"My son is a lamb. I know him very well. I gave birth to him. He has nothing to do with the church attack."
According to French television, the mother's last contact with her son was Tuesday - the day of the attack - when she said she received a text message from him reading: "Do not worry, everything is fine. I love you. Go to sleep."
Petitjean and another 19-year-old man, Adel Kermiche, stormed the church in Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray during Mass.
They held five people - the priest, two nuns and an elderly couple - hostage, before slashing the priest's throat and seriously wounding the other man.
The killing shocked a nation already reeling from a spate of deadly terrorist attacks.