French court indicts two for murder of Holocaust survivor

Mireille Knoll, 85, was found dead on Friday at her apartment in Paris's central 11th district. She had been stabbed multiple times and her flat set alight.

French police suspect antisemitism motivated murder of Holocaust survivor, March 27, 2018 (Reuters)
PARIS – Two men were indicted in Paris late Monday for the murder of 85-year-old French-Jewish Mireille Knoll three days earlier. Police suspect the two men killed her because she was Jewish.
One of them, a 27-year-old neighbor of Knoll, was arrested shortly after the murder, while trying to return to the crime scene. The victim had known this neighbor since he was seven years old, and according to one testimony was seen in the company of Knoll on the day she was killed. He was already suspected by police of sexually harassing the 12-year-old daughter of Knoll’s caretaker who lived in her home.
A second man was arrested on Saturday. Police suspect the homeless 21-year-old was present at Knoll’s apartment when the murder was committed and perhaps assisted the killer. The homeless man was apprehended following a large-scale surveillance operation; he is known to police for violent acts, threats and robbery.
Knoll, a handicapped Holocaust survivor, was found dead in her bed late Friday evening, when emergency personnel forced their way into her home. Neighbors had called the fire service following smoke that came out of the apartment.
Police have not released full details of the crime scene, though it seems that fire had been set in at least five spots in the apartment, burning the body of Knoll. An autopsy revealed that Knoll was stabbed several times.
Shortly after the body was found, the Paris Prosecutor’s Office opened an official inquiry for “murder motivated by the real or presumed religion of the victim, and against a vulnerable person.”
Francis Kalifat, head of the French-Jewish community umbrella organization CRIF, said the main suspect was of North African origin.
Macron visits Paris holocaust memorial (credit: REUTERS)
“She was attacked because she was Jewish. This is what characterizes antisemitism in our country,” Kalifat said. She was stabbed 11 times before she was set on fire, he said.
Knoll escaped the 1942 Vel’ d’Hiv Roundup of Parisian Jews by French police at the last minute because her mother had a Brazilian passport. She fled the city with her mother and crossed the border to Portugal. Her husband, who died in 2000, had survived Auschwitz.
CRIF has called for a memorial march on Wednesday, in honor of Knoll and in support of her family. Marchers will gather at Place de la Nation and walk toward Knoll’s apartment in the 11th arrondissement.
Secretary of State for Parliamentary Relations Christophe Castaner, spokesman of the government, called on Tuesday upon all La République En Marche! party members to join the march on Wednesday.
“Facing antisemitism, intolerance and hate, and those who seek to divide our society, our collective response must be determined and clear: Denounce the people responsible of such acts, protect the victims and get together in order to demonstrate that our society will never accept that,” he said.
Shortly after the murder, President Emmanuel Macron via Twitter condemned the “dreadful” killing and reiterated his determination to fight antisemitism.

Leaders of the Jewish community insisted that authorities treat the killing as an antisemitic hate crime. The murder of 65-year-old Sarah Halimi last April by a man who shouted “God is great” in Arabic before throwing her out a window was recognized as an anti-Jewish hate crime only five months after the fact.