Prosecutor Francois Molins said his office, which oversees terrorism investigations, said five suspects currently in custody are facing preliminary terrorism charges for their alleged roles in helping driver Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel, in a judicial inquiry opened Thursday.
Molins said information from Bouhlel’s phone showed searches and photos that indicated he had been studying an attack since 2015.
Earlier in the day, France’s interior minister acknowledged there was no national police presence at the entrance to the pedestrianized walkway in Nice during the Bastille Day truck attack.
In what represents a backtracking from his previous claim that there was, Bernard Cazeneuve says local police, who are more lightly armed, were guarding the entrance where Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel drove his truck.
Cazeneuve on Thursday defended himself against charges in French newspaper Liberation he lied publicly about there being a national police presence at the entry point — with their cars blocking the road.
In a statement, Cazeneuve accused the paper of conspiracy theories and maintains that several “heroic” national police — who shot dead the attacker — were stationed further down the promenade.
French President Francois Hollande also defended authorities after the newspaper said there was a lack of transparency over the Nice attacks.
“There’s no room for polemics. There’s only room for transparency,” Hollande said.