PARIS (AP) – A Frenchman has been sentenced to life in prison for stabbing an 85-year-old Holocaust survivor to death in an anti-Semitic attack, a case which has sparked widespread outrage and drawn attention to the resurgence of anti-Jewish sentiment in France.
After horror and grief, Mireille Knoll’s family feels justice after Wednesday’s verdict.
“We are exhausted but happy that they recognized the anti-Semitic nature of the attack,” his son Daniel Knoll told The Associated Press. The verdict “was appropriate for this horrific crime”.
Knoll was found dead with multiple stab wounds in March 2018 in her apartment, which was subsequently set on fire. Tribute marches were organized throughout France to pay tribute to him and denounce racism. President Emmanuel Macron attended his funeral and said the attackers “have desecrated our sacred values and our history”.
Yacine Mihoub, a neighbor who grew up in the HLM city of Paris where Knoll had lived most of her life, was found guilty of killing a vulnerable person for religious reasons, according to Knoll’s family.
Another suspect was acquitted of the murder but found guilty of aggravated theft on religious grounds.
Both denied targeting her because she was Jewish, and their lawyers objected to the attack being labeled anti-Semitic. But the case served as a reminder of both historic and current anti-Semitism in France.
“It’s growing. Everyone needs a scapegoat, ”said Daniel Knoll. “We are suffering the consequences. “
“The verdict is not enough. We must educate, educate, educate, ”he said.
At the age of 9 during World War II, Mireille Knoll was forced to flee Paris with her family to escape a notorious roundup of Jews. French police rounded up some 13,000 people – including more than 4,000 children – in the Vel d’Hiv stadium in 1942 and sent them to the Auschwitz death camp in Nazi-occupied Poland. Less than 100 survived.
Knoll and other relatives were able to escape Nazi-occupied territory thanks to a Brazilian family member, according to his son. They went to southern Europe and then to Canada, but Knoll returned to France after the war ended, and stayed.
Knoll’s death came a year after another Jewish woman, Sarah Halimi, was thrown from her Parisian balcony upon her death.
Knoll’s family is pushing for an edition to honor all victims of anti-Semitism and encourage young people to reach out to isolated elderly neighbors.
Unless some action is taken, her son said: “After this verdict, mom will be forgotten. “