Two suspects have been charged in France with the horrific antisemitic murder of 85-year-old Holocaust survivor Mirelle Kanolin, who was stabbed to death and then torched together with her Paris apartment this past weekend.
Forensic evaluation of the site indicated the arsonist set the blaze in five different places within the apartment, clearly making sure the place would burn together with the body.
The style of the murder is “reminiscent of the crime perpetrated against Sarah Halimi,” noted the National Bureau for Vigilance Against Antisemitism (BNVCA). Halimi, a 66-year-old Jewish physician and teacher was murdered by her Muslim neighbor last April due at least in part to her Jewish identity.
“The barbarity of this murder sends us back to that of Sarah Halimi, just one year ago,” agreed Francis Kalifat, president of the CRIF umbrella organization of French Jewish communities, in a statement.
A spokesperson for the Jewish Community Protection Service (SPCJ) said in a statement, “A preliminary examination of the elements of the crime does not reveal an antisemitic characteristic, but this possibility has not been discounted as police investigate further.”
The office of the Paris prosecutor said the suspects have been placed under custody; the investigating judges are being asked to charge both with premeditated murder of a vulnerable person for antisemitic motives.
One of the suspects is a 29-year-old male; the second has not been identified, according to police sources.
French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said at a joint news conference Monday with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that he had a “very moving and difficult moment when I had just concluded my visit to Yad Vashem. I heard about the outrageous murder of Mirelle Kanolin – a Holocaust survivor – in Paris.
“We cannot yet say if the motive for the murder was antisemitism, but it is reasonable to assume, it will not be surprising, and therefore this only strengthens the fact that this struggle has not ended, and that we will need to continue fighting against antisemitism.”