Men suspected of Holocaust survivor’s murder will go on trial in Paris

Author: Alexander Durie and Fanny Bobill / CNN
Published: Updated:
French Police work on the scene where French soldiers were hit and injured by a by a vehicle in the western Paris suburb of Levallois-Perret near Paris, France, Wednesday, Aug. 9, 2017. French police are searching for a driver who slammed his BMW into a group of soldiers, injuring six of them in an apparent ambush before speeding away, officials said. The incident in Levallois, northwest of Paris, is the latest of several attacks targeting security forces in France.(AP Photo/Kamil Zihnioglu)

Two men suspected of murdering a Holocaust survivor in Paris during an alleged anti-Semitic attack will stand trial over her death, the Paris prosecutor’s office told CNN on Monday.

Mireille Knoll was found dead in her Paris apartment in 2018. In an attack that outraged the country, the 85-year-old was stabbed 11 times and her home was set on fire.

The indictments on three charges were confirmed on July 10 by the Examining Magistrates, the prosecutor’s office said.

The men are charged with “the murder of a vulnerable person committed because of the true or supposed victim’s religion,” as well as “aggravated theft” and “degradation by dangerous means to individuals,” the office said.

One suspect was Knoll’s neighbor, who was 27 at the time of the stabbing. He had previously been jailed for sexually assaulting the daughter of Knoll’s domestic helper, a judicial source told CNN in 2018.

The second suspect was a homeless man, who was 21 at the time of the killing.

The pair maintain that they are innocent, AFP reports.

A third person has also been indicted in relation to the case, on a charge of “destroying a document or object relating to a crime or offense in order to prevent the truth from being established.” That person is under judicial supervision, the prosecutor’s office said.

She escaped a Nazi roundup

“In this case, finally justice. And nothing else,” William Goldnadel, Knoll family’s lawyer, wrote on Twitter on Monday.

“We were waiting impatiently for such a reaction from the justice system in regards to the final indictment,” Alain Knoll, the victim’s son, told CNN affiliate BFMTV on Monday.

“We are very satisfied with the way things are going, with the fact that there will be a judgment, with the fact that the double aggravating circumstance of anti-Semitism has been retained.”

According to lawmaker Meyer Habib, Knoll escaped the Vel’ d’Hiv’ Roundup in 1942, which was ordered by Nazi occupiers and resulted in the mass arrest of 13,000 French Jews.

Those detained were held at the Vel’ d’Hiv cycling track in Paris before thousands were deported to the Auschwitz concentration camp in Nazi-occupied Poland.

Her death in 2018 was decried by political figures and Jewish organizations across France.

French President Emmanuel Macron described her killing as a “dreadful crime” on Twitter. In his comments he also reaffirmed his “absolute determination to fight against anti-Semitism.”

The former Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said in January that 687 anti-Semitic incidents were recorded in 2019 in France compared to 541 in 2018 — a 27% increase.

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