Le Pen calls for end to borderless Schengen zone
Paris, Dec 23 (IANS/AKI) French far-right leader Marine Le Pen on Friday urged an end to Europe’s Schengen open borders accord after the suspect sought for the Berlin Christmas market attack was shot dead in Italy, where he is believed to have arrived by train from France.
“This escapade in at least two or three countries is symptomatic of the utter security catastrophe that is the Schengen agreement,” said Le Pen, who leads France’s anti-immigrant National Front party.
“I reiterate my pledge to give back France full control of its sovereignty, its national borders and to put an end to the consequences of the Schengen agreement,” added Le Pen.
“The myth of freedom of movement in Europe to which my presidential election rivals are still clinging, must be buried.”
Another leading Eurosceptic, anti-EU British politician Nigel Farage, the former leader of the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) also said the Schengen zone must “go” if it was proven the man killed by police in Milan was the Berlin attacker.
“If the man shot in Milan is the Berlin killer, then the Schengen Area is proven to be a risk to public safety. It must go,” Farage tweeted.
The Italian government said the man killed in a shoot-out with police on Milan’s northern outskirts early on Friday was “without a shadow of a doubt” 24-year-old Tunisian fugitive Anis Amri.
Amri was suspected of driving a heavy truck into Berlin’s busy Breitscheidplatz market on Monday, killing 12 people and injuring 53, 14 of them critically in an attack claimed by the Islamic State jihadist group.
German investigators said they identified Amri from an identity card in a wallet they found inside the Polish-registered truck and from fingerprints in its cab.
Amri had a train ticket in his backpack from from Chambery, south-eastern France, arriving in Milan at 1 a.m. He was shot at dead at 3 a.m. after pulling a gun on police when he was stopped and asked for ID.
He is believed to have taken a high-speed train from France to the northwest Italian city of Turin, from where he caught a local train to Milan. Police said they found no documents in his possession.
Milan’s police chief said it was not yet known if the handgun Amri pulled on officers in Milan was the same one he allegedly used to shoot dead the hijacked truck’s original driver in Berlin.
European Union’s 31-year-old Schengen accord allows passport-free travel between continental EU states – except for newer members Romania, Bulgaria and Croatia – as well as Switzerland.
Some EU countries however re-introduced border checks last year amid the ongoing influx to Europe of migrants fleeing conflict and poverty and persecution in Africa, the Middle East and Asia.