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13-year-old girl lied about French teacher who was later beheaded, her lawyer says

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A 13-year-old schoolgirl confessed that she lied about a French teacher who was beheaded after showing his class cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad, according to the girl's lawyer. Samuel Paty, a secondary school teacher in a town near Paris, was killed last October by a radical Chechen teenager after showing the cartoons to students during a civics class about free speech.

Samuel Paty
Samuel Paty Twitter via Abaca/Sipa USA/AP Images

The unidentified girl told police that she lied about being in the class and falsely accused Paty of asking Muslim children to leave the class while he showed the pictures.

Her father, who has been charged in connection with the murder, posted several incendiary videos on Facebook based on his daughter's testimony which identified Paty.

"Everything in the investigation showed very early that she lied," the Paty family's lawyer Virginie Le Roy told RTL radio on Tuesday.

She said she was "skeptical" of the version of events recounted by the girl. On Monday, the girl's lawyer, Mbeko Tabula, told AFP, "She lied because she felt trapped in a spiral because her classmates had asked her to be a spokesperson."

Le Roy added, "A spokesperson of what? Of lies, of events that never happened? This explanation does not convince me and makes me rather angry because the facts are serious, they're tragic."

The killing of Paty shocked France and led to a fresh debate about freedom of speech, the integration of France's large Muslim population and the role of social media in whipping up hatred.

Paty was murdered in the town of Conflans-Sainte-Honorine by the 18-year-old Muslim extremist from Russia who had seen the online campaign against the teacher mounted by the schoolgirl's father and another man, a known Islamist preacher.

Both of the individuals behind the Facebook videos have been charged with "complicity in murder" over their postings and are awaiting trial in jail, while the schoolgirl has been charged with slander.

The killer was shot dead by police.

A draft new security law being discussed in the French parliament would make it a jailable offense to publish information online about a public servant knowing that doing so could cause them harm.

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