Anti-Semitism blamed for fan's death

French prosecutors probe incident in which Jew was attacked after UEFA game.

racist graffiti 298.88 (photo credit: AP)
racist graffiti 298.88
(photo credit: AP)
French prosecutors opened an inquiry Saturday into a shooting death by a police officer two days earlier when some 100 Paris Saint-Germain fans attacked a French Jew attending a PSG match against Hapoel Tel Aviv. The plainclothes officer, Antoine Granomort, told investigators Saturday that he used his weapon because he considered himself in danger, the prosecutor's office said. Granomort was freed Saturday night, though an investigation continues. Granomort allegedly killed a soccer fan amid apparent anti-Semitic and racist violence that followed PSG's 4-2 loss to Hapoel in a UEFA Cup match late Thursday night. Witnesses said PSG fans shouted anti-Semitic and racist epithets, and Granomort, originally from the Caribbean, said he fired into the crowd to protect himself and a French Jew, Yaniv Hazout. Julien Quemener, a 24-year-old PSG fan, was hit and died as a result of his wounds, while a 26-year-old PSG supporter was in serious condition at a local hospital. Paris prosecutor Jean-Claude Marin, who said it was likely Granomort acted in self-defense, opened a judicial inquiry. Marin wants Granomort to testify as a legally represented witness, a status in French law between a witness and a suspect. The incident occurred at a McDonald's restaurant near Parc des Princes Stadium following the game. "Four young people, presumably from the Jewish community, were cornered by a group of supporters of PSG. [The four young people] decided to separate and one of them, Yaniv Hazout, was chased by attackers... The mob grew to some 100 people," Marin said. The PSG fans shouted anti-Semitic and racial epithets, and Granomort came to Hazout's rescue, said Luc Poignant, a police union official said. "They were shouting 'filthy Jew' and when they saw our colleague, who comes from the Caribbean, they also yelled, 'filthy black, we're going to get you,'" he said. Marin said Granomort sought to shield Hazout and keep the crowd away by using his tear-gas canister. The Paris prosecutor said the PSG supporters had made Nazi salutes and shouted, "Le Pen, president," a reference to Jean-Marie Le Pen, leader of the extreme-right National Front party. Le Pen accused Marin of "complicity in defamation" and warned that his party would sue anyone who links it to the incident. Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy said some PSG fans shouted "Death to the Jew" as they attacked Hazout. "Two men fell to the ground, one of whom died from his wounds, while the other suffered a lung injury," Sarkozy said. Five fans were in police custody Friday, facing possible charges for "racist and anti-Semitic insults," police said. Earlier reports said that Hazout was a Hapoel Tel Aviv fan, but the club contradicted the reports on Saturday. "There was no involvement of any Hapoel Tel Aviv fans," Hapoel spokesperson Amir Lubin told The Jerusalem Post. "The person attacked was a man from the [local] Jewish community who came to support the team and not a Hapoel fan [from Israel]. You will not find a single Hapoel fan [from Israel] who witnessed the events, as they were all kept in the stadium for an hour and a half, until all the PSG fans had left. "The police did an excellent job and made sure nobody went home before the coast was clear," he said. Lubin, who was with the team in Paris, said the atmosphere in the stadium wasn't more hostile than usual, and was "no worse than a local derby match or a game against Betar Jerusalem." French President Jacques Chirac said he was both "astonished and horrified" by the racist violence surrounding the shooting. He condemned the racially-based violence as "shameful" and said the events "inspire a feeling not only of condemnation, not only of stupefaction, but also of horror." French Sports Minister Jean-Francois Lamour denounced the "climate of tension and violence at certain soccer matches." Lawmaker Claude Goasguen demanded that hooligan groups be disbanded. The incident "shames soccer, shames PSG and shames Paris," he said. Paris Mayor Bertrand Delanoe said he would contact the capital's police chief and PSG president to discuss new measures. "The seriousness of this event confirms the absolute necessity of fighting racism and anti-Semitism among PSG fans," Delanoe said in a statement. "I want to make sure that Paris's image and values are respected under all circumstances. There is no room for the slightest form of intolerance." Overt racism has become increasingly common at PSG's Parc des Princes Stadium, with insults and monkey chants often directed at black players. Hooligan gangs also often look to fight black and Arab members of multiethnic rival gangs at the stadium during games. AP contributed to this report.