French Police treating killing of elderly women as anti-semitic murder

French prosecutors are treating the murder of an 85-year-old Jewish woman in Paris as an anti-Semitic murder

The attack took place in Mireille Knoll's home in a block of flats in the 11th arrondisement of Paris (Photo: AFP)
The attack took place in Mireille Knoll's home in a block of flats in the 11th arrondisement of Paris (Photo: AFP)

French prosecutors are treating the murder of an 85-year-old Jewish woman in Paris as an anti-Semitic murder.

Mireille Knoll’s body was found in her burnt-out flat in Paris, but it emereged that she was stabbed several times before Friday’s blaze.

In 1942, she escaped the notorious Vel d'Hiv round up of some 13,000 Jews in Paris, who were then deported to Nazi death camps.

Two men, aged 22 and 29, have been arrested and placed under formal investigation over the murder.

Mirellie Knoll survived the July 1942 roundup of 13,000 Jews in Paris
Mirellie Knoll survived the July 1942 roundup of 13,000 Jews in Paris

After the war Knoll settled in Paris and married a Holocaust survivor, who died in the early 2000s.

“We are really in shock,” said her son. “I don’t understand how someone could kill a woman who has no money and who lives in a social housing complex.”

A police source told French media that one of them had previously been convicted of molesting a 12-year-old girl who had been staying at Mireille Knoll's flat.

She had also complained to police that a neighbour had threatened to set fire to her home, according to reports.

On Sunday, investigators said they were "not excluding any hypothesis" as to the motive for the attack.

On a visit to Jerusalem on Monday, the French foreign minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said it was “plausible” that Knoll was killed because of her religion and her death showed the need for a “fundamental and permanent” fight against antisemitism.

French lawmaker Meyer Habib wrote on Facebook that the pensioner had escaped Vel d'Hiv in 1942 thanks to her mother's Brazilian passport.

In a statement (in French), France's Jewish umbrella organisation Crif expressed "anger and concern" at the attack.

It urged "the fullest transparency" by the authorities "so that the motive of this barbaric crime is known as quickly as possible".

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