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CRIME

Two men on trial over murder of elderly Jewish woman that shocked France

Two men went on trial on Tuesday over the 2018 murder of an elderly Jewish woman that provoked protests and alarm in France about anti-Semitic crime.

Flowers left in tribute to Mireille Knoll, 85, outside her home in Paros.
Flowers left in tribute to Mireille Knoll, outside her home in Paris. Photo: Francois Guillot/AFP

The partly burned body of Mireille Knoll, 85, was found in her apartment in central Paris after she had been stabbed 11 times before her home was set on fire.

President Emmanuel Macron attended the funeral of the Holocaust survivor, who escaped a notorious 1942 roundup of more than 13,000 Jews in Paris by fleeing with her mother to Portugal when she was nine years old.

Two men have been charged with her killing, a 25-year-old homeless man with psychiatric problems and the 31-year-old son of one of Kroll’s neighbours.

The pair, who met in prison and have past convictions for theft and violence, both deny killing the frail and immobile grandmother and each blames the other for her death.

“We will need a miracle for the truth to come out of their mouths,” Gilles-William Goldnadel, a lawyer acting for Knoll’s family, told reporters as he entered the court, adding that it was a case of “anti-Semitism motivated by financial gain.”

Prosecutors are treating the murder as an anti-Semitic hate crime because one of the men said he had overheard the other “talking about Jews’ money and their wealth” and that he shouted “Allahu Akbar” (“God is greatest”) while stabbing her.

The investigation had also shown one of the suspects, named as Yacine Mihoub, had an “ambivalent” attitude towards Islamic extremism, prosecutors claim.

“They’re monsters,” Knoll’s son, Daniel Knoll, told reporters on Tuesday.

“We are expecting a very severe verdict.”

Both Mihoub, 31, and co-accused Alex Carrimbacus, 25, were present in court or the trial which is due to last until November 10th.

The murder was the latest in a series of attacks that have horrified France’s 500,000-strong Jewish community and exacerbated concern about how rising Islamic extremism is fuelling anti-Semitism.

An estimated 30,000 people took part in a silent march in her memory in March 2018 that was attended by government ministers and the heads of France’s political parties.

One of the organisers, Sabrina Moise, said at that the time that while she “loves France” she felt it was “no longer safe for Jews because of galloping anti-Semitism.”

In 2012, Islamist gunman Mohamed Merah shot dead three children and a teacher at a Jewish school in the southwestern city of Toulouse.

Three years later, a gunman killed four people in a hostage-taking at a Jewish supermarket in the French capital.

And in 2017, an Orthodox Jewish woman in her sixties, Sarah Halimi, was thrown out of the window of her Paris flat by a neighbour shouting “Allahu Akhbar”.

France’s highest court ruled in April that the killer, Kobili Traore, was not criminally responsible for crime after succumbing to a “delirious fit” under the influence of drugs and could not go on trial.

That ruling infuriated the victim’s family as well as Jewish groups, and prompted Macron to urge a change in French law to ensure people face responsibility for violent crimes while under the influence of drugs.

It also prompted protests in France and also Israel.

Speaking about Knoll, Macron had said her killer she “murdered an innocent and vulnerable woman because she was Jewish and in doing so had sullied our most sacred values and our memory.”

Member comments

  1. Even without knowing the outcome of the long awaited trial we almost know for sure the verdict . This will be “not guilty” on reason that one is bonkers and the other was high on drugs at the time of the unfortunate murder of this fine Jewish lady. Its very risky being Jewish in France now .

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POLICE

France vows to tackle motorbike ‘rodeos’ after children injured

The French government has pledged a new crackdown against illicit motorbike cruising by youths in suburbs across the country, after two children were seriously injured by a rider near Paris.

France vows to tackle motorbike 'rodeos' after children injured

The rowdy late-night races and stunts known as “rodeos” have become increasingly popular in particular in low-income neighbourhoods, leading to complaints about traffic and noise from local officials and many residents.

On Friday evening, a 10-year-old girl and an 11-year-old boy were hit by a rider while playing tag outside their home in Pontoise, northwest of the capital.

French daily Le Figaro reported on Monday that the girl suffered a blow to the head and remained in serious condition in hospital, while the boy had a broken leg.

The accident came after a 19-year-old man was killed in June after being hit by a bike rider in the western city of Rennes.

“I have asked the police to step up their interventions this month,” Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin said in the southern city of Marseille.

Nonetheless the rodeos are often tolerated or defended as a gritty urban subculture that provides an outlet for disaffected youths, with an upcoming film, “Rodeo”, that appears to glorify the gatherings and  generated a strong buzz at the Cannes film festival last May.

Police have carried out 8,000 operations to break up rodeos in the past two months, leading to 1,200 arrests and the seizure of around 700 motorbikes and other vehicles including all-terrain “quads”.

In 2018, parliament passed a law increasing penalties for the riders to up to five years in prison.

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