France: Life sentence for killing of Holocaust survivor

PARIS (AP), -- A Frenchman has been sentenced for murdering an 85-year old Holocaust survivor in an antisemitic attack. The case triggered outrage and brought attention to anti-Jewish sentiments in France.
Mireille Knoll's family feels relief after Wednesday's verdict.

Daniel Knoll, her son, said that although they were exhausted, they appreciated the recognition of the antisemitic nature. "This horrible crime was justifiable," the verdict read.

Knoll, who had suffered multiple stab wounds, was found dead in her apartment in March 2018. It was set ablaze. To honor Knoll and condemn racism, tribute marches were held all over France. President Emmanuel Macron attended her funeral, and stated that the attackers had "profaned both our history and sacred values."

Yacine Mihoub was a neighbor who lived in the Paris public housing complex where Knoll spent most of her childhood. She was convicted of murdering a vulnerable person on religious grounds, Knoll's family said.

Another suspect was acquitted in murder, but convicted for aggravated theft with religious motives.

Both denied that she was Jewish and her lawyers had opposed the classification of the attack as antisemitic. The case served to remind France of antisemitism both historical and modern.

"It's growing. Daniel Knoll stated that everyone needs a scapegoat. "We are the ones who suffer."

"The verdict is not enough. He said, "We must educate, educate and educate."

Mireille Knoll, a 9-year old girl during World War II, was forced to flee Paris along with her family in order to escape a notorious Jewish roundup. In 1942, French police brought 13,000 people into the Vel d'Hiv stadium and transported them to Auschwitz in Nazi-occupied Poland. Only 100 people survived.

According to her son, Knoll and his relatives managed to flee Nazi-occupied territory because of a Brazilian citizen family member. They traveled to Canada and southern Europe, but Knoll returned to France at the end of war.

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Knoll's death occurred one year after Sarah Halimi, a Jewish woman, was thrown from her Paris balcony and killed.

Knoll's family wants an annual memorial to all victims of antisemitism and to encourage young people who live alone to help elderly neighbors.

Her son stated that if no action was taken, she would be forgotten.