Italy's interior minister confirmed Friday the Tunisian man who killed three people in an attack on worshippers at a church in Nice had passed through Italy on his way to France.
At a news conference in Rome, Interior Minister Luciana Lamorgese said Ibrahim Issaoui disembarked from a migrant boat on Italy's southernmost island of Lampedusa on September 20 and was given a repatriation order to leave Italy on October 9.
Lamorgese gave no further details on what if any action was taken to act on the repatriation order or if Issaoui complied with the order.
Under current agreements with Italy, Tunisia agrees to take back a maximum of 80 nationals a week. New arrivals are invariably handed expulsion papers but are almost never detained until a flight home can be organized. Instead, many move swiftly out of Italy, often heading to France, which has a large Tunisian community.
The Italian interior minister said Issaoui was not flagged by either Tunisian authorities or by intelligence agencies.
Lamorgese has come under fire in Italy by right-wing politicians who say she bears some responsibility for the killings in France for not preventing Issaoui from entering Europe. The interior minister called on Italian political parties "to take a break" from political infighting and to show solidarity with the French people.
Police investigating the gruesome attack had a second suspect in custody Friday. France recently heightened its security alert amid religious and geopolitical tensions around cartoons mocking the Muslim prophet.
French authorities say Issaoui was seriously wounded by police and hospitalized in life-threatening condition.