ADDS accuser quotes, minute of silence, ceremonies
The French government was shocked on Tuesday after a tax inspector was stabbed to death while trying to check the books of a business owner in the north of the country.
The murder victim, a 43-year-old tax official, was found dead on Monday, “most likely from repeated stabbing”, the prosecutor’s office in the northern French city of Arras said.
The suspected killer, a 46-year-old antiques dealer, then allegedly committed suicide with a firearm, it said.
The suspect, described by the mayor as “an ordinary man”, detained and tied up the tax inspector and a female colleague during a tax audit of his company, police said.
Arras chief prosecutor Sylvain Barbier Sainte-Marie told reporters on Tuesday that the suspected killer may have planned the murder well in advance of the officers’ visit.
The police had found clamps with which the officers were tied up “probably bought for the act”, according to the prosecutor.
“Early evidence seems to point to a premeditated act,” he said.
Budget Minister Gabriel Attal previously said that “the republic is crying for one of its own people”, calling it “abhorrent” that an official was killed “for doing his job”.
The inspector arrived Monday afternoon with a colleague at the antique dealer’s home to check his accounts.
Attal said agents were usually only sent on tax audit missions, but this time there was back-up because there had been tensions during previous visits to the antiquarian’s business.
Prosecutors said the businessman tied them up and stabbed the inspector, leaving the colleague “terribly shaken” but otherwise unharmed.
A tax officials’ union said the case showed its members had “potentially dangerous” jobs.
The dealer, a divorced father of two, moved to the hamlet of Bullecourt four years ago, Mayor Eric Bianchin told AFP.
He bought a farm where he sold trinkets he picked up at area auctions and yard sales.
He was “an ordinary man,” said the mayor, describing him as “helpful and well integrated into the village” of some 250 people.
A neighbor, Geoffrey Fournier, described the suspected killer as “discreet” and “apparently hardworking”, whose business “appeared to be going well”.
The French parliament observed a minute’s silence in memory of the tax inspector.
On Wednesday, there will be ceremonies in regional tax centers in his honor, Attal said.