Ftouhi says he has no mental problems: court hearing

By The Canadian Press

FLINT, Mich. – The Quebecer charged in the stabbing of a police officer at a Michigan airport says he has no mental or physical problems and does not use alcohol or drugs.

Audio from Amor Ftouhi’s court hearing was released Thursday and indicates the accused has been working on and off as a truck driver and last worked about two weeks ago.

The court was told at Wednesday’s hearing in Flint, Mich., that the married father of three, who has dual Canadian-Tunisian citizenship, has three sisters and two brothers in Tunisia and another sister in Switzerland.

It also heard the Montreal resident has lived in Canada for 10 years.

David Koelzer, the attorney who represented the accused, said he previously read out the complaint to Ftouhi, who also had a hard copy of the document in which the charge of committing violence at an international airport was outlined.

“He certainly appeared to understand what I was reading and indicated to me he understood what I was reading to him and that it represented the facts alleged in support of the charge,” Koelzer told Judge Stephanie Dawkins Davis.

The Detroit Free Press reported that officials said Ftouhi was wearing a mask at the court proceedings because he had spat on a law-enforcement officer.

Ftouhi is charged in the stabbing attack on airport police Lt. Jeff Neville in Flint, which occurred after someone yelled “Allahu akbar,” the Arabic phrase for “God is great.”

According to the FBI, Ftouhi said something similar to “you have killed people in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, and we are all going to die.”

Linsey Carson, a court pretrial services officer, also spoke at Ftouhi’s hearing Wednesday.

“He said he was working off and on as a truck driver,” she said. “Last worked about two weeks ago. He indicated no mental or physical health problems and no drug or alcohol use.”

His bail hearing is scheduled for this coming Wednesday, when a date for a preliminary hearing is also to be set.

Acting U.S. Attorney Dan Lemisch says more charges are coming in the days ahead.

The FBI said Thursday that Ftouhi unsuccessfully tried to purchase a gun in the United States before buying a knife.

David Gelios, head of the FBI in Detroit said, authorities “have absolutely no indication that he had any association with anyone in the Flint area or, thus far, in Michigan.”

He also said that Ftouhi was “neither on the radar of Canadian authorities or FBI or United States authorities.”

In Quebec City, meanwhile, Premier Philippe Couillard said Muslims have a responsibility in the fight against terrorism.

One “cannot disconnect this type of event, terrorism, from Islam in general,” Couillard told reporters.

“And I think (French) President (Emmanuel) Macron yesterday was very eloquent about this when, addressing the Muslim community in France, he told them, ‘it is also your responsibility to act on the theological front, to explain to your people that this is not part of the religion, that it is contrary to the teachings of the religion.’

“There’s a dual responsibility. But any intolerance, any discrimination, of course you know where we stand. We are completely against that and against any generalization of the broader community.”

With files from The Associated Press

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