Police treating killing of elderly woman in Paris as anti-Semitic attack

Two suspects arrested after Mireille Knoll (85) was found dead in her flat on Friday

Apartment block in Paris’s 11th arrondissement in which the murder of an 85-year-old Jewish woman  is alleged to have taken place. Photograph: Thomas Samson/AFP/Getty Images

Apartment block in Paris’s 11th arrondissement in which the murder of an 85-year-old Jewish woman is alleged to have taken place. Photograph: Thomas Samson/AFP/Getty Images

 

French investigators are treating the killing of an 85-year-old Jewish woman in Paris as an anti-Semitic murder, after it emerged that she had survived France’s most notorious second World War round-up of Jews in 1942.

Mireille Knoll lived alone and was found dead after a fire broke out in her flat in Paris’s 11th arrondissement on Friday night. An autopsy showed she had been stabbed several times before the fire.

Two suspects who were arrested are to appear before judges as judicial sources confirmed the death was being treated as motivated by her religion.

As a child, Ms Knoll had managed to evade the notorious July 1942 round-up by French police of more than 13,000 Jews in Paris, who were detained at the Vel d’Hiv cycling track before being sent to their deaths in Nazi camps. More than 4,000 of those rounded up were children. Fewer than 100 of the Jews detained at the Vel d’Hiv and then sent to the camps survived.

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

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

Fight against anti-Semitism

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

The CRIF umbrella grouping of French Jewish organisations called for “the fullest transparency” by the authorities investigating the killing.

France’s large Jewish community has voiced concern over a rise in violent anti-Semitic acts in recent years.

Last month, a judge confirmed that the April 2017 murder of Sarah Halimi, a 65-year-old orthodox Jewish woman who was beaten and thrown out of her window in the same Paris arrondissement, was motivated by anti-Semitism. The judge’s ruling overturned an earlier decision by French authorities that Halimi’s murder was not to be treated as a hate crime. – Guardian