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The French prosecutor’s office has opened a probe after a press report alleged that a police intelligence note had been post-dated to cover up a failure to act against an Islamic extremist who ultimately slit the throat of a Normandy priest.

A judicial official said on Friday the probe concerns charges of forgery and alteration of documents.

The official said the decision to investigate was triggered by a complaint filed by civil parties in the 2016 case surrounding the murder of the priest in Saint Etienne du Rouvray by two extremists. The official wasn’t authorized to speak publicly and couldn’t be named.

The opening of a probe follows a report a day earlier by the online investigative publication Mediapart revealing the existence of an intelligence note on Adel Kermiche, alleging it was post-dated once the deadly attack on the 85-year-old Rev. Jacques Hamel took place and suggesting the murder might have been avoided.

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The Mediapart article tackles the bureaucracy that allegedly kept the note about Kermiche from going up the command chain – and into the hands of the main intelligence service handling terrorism cases.

Based on months of interviews with police officers close to the intelligence operation, it cited low staffing on summer holidays, poor work conditions and, above all, the need for members of the hierarchy to sign off on intelligence documents submitted by the rank and file.

“Because what we write is classified as a defense secret, there are too many controls, too much rereading, too many chiefs who want to correct the notes, put their stamp on it …,” Mediapart quoted an unnamed officer in the intelligence unit as saying.

The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the attack, as well as the attack in Nice earlier that month, July 14, when 84 people were killed by a man who plowed his truck down a seaside promenade. Read More …