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A suspected cannibal who killed a 90-year-old man in southern France apparently to eat his heart and tongue was a former soldier who served in Afghanistan, an army source said on Monday.
The 26-year-old homeless man, who claimed to hear voices, had passed army medical tests without any problem, said a senior source at the Marine Infantry Tank Regiment, a light cavalry regiment of the French army.
The source at the regiment, one of the army's most decorated units, said the man had "posed no problems during his stint" in Afghanistan, where he obtained the grade of corporal.
When he returned, the man refused an army offer to extend his contract, saying he wanted a painting job, the source said, without specifying when the man had served.
The young homeless man on Thursday attacked the elderly man in a tiny hamlet, smashing his head with a metal object, and then extracted his heart and tongue to cook and eat.
Some remains of cooked meat were found on a plate with some beans. Post-mortem tests have shown that a part of the heart and the tongue were ripped out, but it is not yet clear if the meat found was of human origin.
The suspect assaulted another man, breaking his shoulder, before being arrested.
Psychiatric tests after the arrest showed the man suffered from delusions.
A prosecutor from the region of Pau said a probe has been opened to establish if murder had been committed.
Regional prosecutor Jean-Christophe Muller added that "at this stage, no link has been made between his military past and his current psychiatric state".