French Jew who invented Islamic State attack gets suspended sentence

History and geography teacher in Marseille claimed jihadists assaulted him days after Paris attacks

Tzion Saadon sits in the courthouse of Marseille on May 12, 2016. (AFP/BORIS HORVAT)
Tzion Saadon sits in the courthouse of Marseille on May 12, 2016. (AFP/BORIS HORVAT)

MARSEILLE, France — A Jewish teacher in France who claimed he was attacked by Islamic State jihadists in November, just days after the Paris attacks, received a six-month suspended sentence on Thursday.

The 57-year-old man maintained his version of events throughout the trial in the southern city of Marseille, but the court found he had invented the story.

The unnamed defendant said that a few days after the November 13 attacks by Islamic State bombers and gunmen in the French capital that left 130 dead, he was assaulted by three men armed with knives, claiming to be from the same group. Previous press accounts have identified him as Tzion Saadon.

“The truth is he wasn’t assaulted in the way he says,” said prosecutor Andre Ribes, underlining doubts raised by all the police officers, firefighters, doctors and experts involved in the case.

“I have never seen real injuries from a knife that looked like this,” said one local official, adding that he thought marital problems may have been the reason for the defendant’s lie.

A teacher of history and geography in a Jewish school, the man received extensive coverage in the media at the time, appearing alongside Jewish community leaders and displaying superficial wounds on his forearm and abdomen.

The incident garnered a lot of interest at a time of heightened tension, particularly for France’s Jewish community. President Francois Hollande described it as “terrible.”

Michele Teboul, the president of the local branch of the CRIF umbrella organization of French Jews, told JTA at the time that one of the attackers had shown Saadon a cellphone picture of Mohammed Merah, a French jihadist who killed a rabbi and four children at a Jewish school in Toulouse in 2012.

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