French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said it was likely that the gruesome murder of a French Holocaust survivor was an anti-Semitic attack, while officials in Paris said it was being investigated as an "anti-Semitic murder."
Speaking while on an official visit to Israel, he 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."
Le Drian added that it "highlights how this struggle has not yet ended and that we will need to continue to fight anti-Semitism."
The public prosecutor's department in Paris opened an investigation into what it called “a murder based on the assumption that the vulnerable victim belonged to a specific religion,” calling it an “anti-Semitic murder.”
The public prosecutor's department is also charging suspects with “aggravated theft,” and with “damaging another person’s property by means dangerous to the people,” while ordering preventive detention of the perpetrators.
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One of the two suspects was a regular visitor of the victim, AFP reported, quoting the victim’s son anonymously, and adding that “she treated him like a son.”
"We are really in shock. I don't understand how someone could kill a woman who has no money and who lives in a social housing complex," her son lamented to AFP.
The burned and stabbed body of the Holocaust survivor was found in her Paris apartment. The National Bureau for Vigilance Against Anti-Semitism, a French anti-Semitism watchdog, wrote in a statement Sunday that the suspected murder of the 85-year-old woman, identified by BNVCA and in the French media only as Mireille K., “is reminiscent of the crime committed against Sarah Halimi,” a 66-year-old Jewish teacher and physician whom prosecutors say was murdered by her Muslim neighbor in April partly in connection with her Jewish identity.
According to the BNVCA, the octogenarian’s body was set on fire Friday night. Her charred body also had at least 11 stab wounds. Police have a suspect in custody in connection with her death.
The victim was found dead in her apartment on Philippe August Street in Paris’ 11th District, in the city’s east near the Nation Square. She previously had gone to the authorities about a man from the same street whom she said had threatened to “burn her,” BNVCA wrote.
A forensic examination of the apartment showed that an arsonist started a fire in at least five distinct areas of it, the report also said.
According to an AFP report, the victim managed to escape the infamous 1942 roundup of more than 13,000 Jews in Paris by running to Portugal with her mother. She is therefore one the 100 people who survived after being detained at at the so-called Vel d'Hiv cycling cycling track, added the agency.
The women reportedly married another Holocaust survivor in Paris after the war, but her partner passed away in the early 2000s.