THE police officer who was shot dead after swapping places with a hostage during a terror siege in Trèbes, southern France, last Friday, was due to have a religious wedding in June, it was revealed this week. He was described by a priest as a “passionate” Roman Catholic whose faith inspired an act of “superhuman sacrifice”.
The officer, Lieutenant-Colonel Arnaud Beltrame, died in hospital from his wounds after he was shot three times by Redouane Lakdim, a radical Islamist who had been holding several people hostage at a supermarket in Trèbes, Carcassonne.
Lt. Col. Beltrame, who was 44, negotiated his own exchange for a female worker at the store, before he was shot. Three other people died, and at least 16 people were injured, including first responders, during the attack.
Fr Jean-Baptiste, the priest who was to conduct the wedding ceremony for Lt. Col. Beltrame and his partner, Marielle, in the Abbey of St Mary of Lagrasse, in June, wrote in a statement on Saturday: “We spent many hours working on the basics of married life for almost two years. The very beautiful declaration of intention of Arnaud reached me four days before his heroic death.
“This young couple regularly came to the abbey to participate in masses, services, and teachings, especially to a group of ‘foyers’, Notre Dame de Cana. They were part of the Narbonne team. They came again last Sunday.
“Intelligent, sporty, voluble, and lively, Arnaud spoke readily of his conversion. Born into a family with little practice, he experienced a genuine conversion around 2008, at almost 33 years old.” The couple had been married in a civil ceremony in August 2016.
Fr Jean-Baptiste visited Lt. Col. Beltrame at a hospital in Carcassonne: “I was able to give him the sacrament of the sick and the apostolic blessing at the moment of death. . .
“Passionate about the Gendarmerie, he has always had a passion for France: her greatness, her history, and her Christian roots that he rediscovered with his conversion. By substituting himself for the hostages, he is probably motivated by commitment to his gallantry as an officer, because, for him, being a policeman meant protecting. But he knew the incredible risk that he was taking.”
The French President, Emmanuel Macron, praised Lt. Col. Beltrame for his “exceptional self-sacrifice and courage. . . In giving his life to end the deadly plan of a jihadi terrorist, he fell as a hero.”
Read Paul Valley on Lt Col Beltrame’s self-sacrifice.