Two Suspects Charged for anti-Semitic Murder of French Holocaust Survivor

Memorial march to be held in Paris Wednesday for 85-year-old Mireille Knoll who was stabbed to death and her apartment set on fire

Mireille Knoll, an 85-year-old Holocaust survivor found murdered in her Paris apartment on March 23, 2018.
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Two suspects have been given preliminary charges of murder with anti-Semitic motives over the death of an elderly Jewish woman, a French judicial official said Tuesday.

The two men have been jailed, the official said. He was speaking anonymously to discuss the ongoing investigation.

Leading Jewish group CRIF said 85-year-old Mireille Knoll was slain last week in Paris' eastern 11th district. She had been stabbed several times and her apartment set on fire.

Knoll had reportedly escaped a notorious World War II round-up in Paris of Jews, who were then shipped to Auschwitz.

On Monday, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said it was likely that the murder was an anti-Semitic attack. Speaking during an official visit to Israel, Le Drian said that "it was a very difficult and emotional moment for me. I had just completed my visit to Yad Vashem and I heard about the horror of the murder. We currently cannot say the reason for the murder was anti-Semitism, but it is plausible, and it will not be surprising."

A silent march will take place Wednesday in Paris in memory of Knoll.

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French President Emmanuel Macron tweeted that it was a "horrific crime," and reaffirmed his "absolute determination to fight against anti-Semitism."

France's government presented a plan earlier this month to better fight against racism and anti-Semitism, focusing on social media and prevention in schools.

The government notably wants to change French law to force internet platforms to detect, signal and remove illegal content.

An annual national count of racist, anti-Semitic, anti-Muslim and anti-Christian acts – mainly threats – dipped in 2017 compared with the year before. However, anti-Semitic violence increased by 26 percent, and criminal damage to Jewish places of worship and burials by 22 percent.

French police officers outside Paris, Thursday, January 8, 2015
Christophe Ena / AP