Two men went on trial in Paris on Oct. 26 for the 2018 murder of 85-year-old Holocaust survivor Mireille Knoll, who escaped a roundup of Jews during World War II.
The defendants — 31-year-old Yacine Mihoub and 25-year-old Alex Carrimbacus — are accused of stabbing Knoll to death and setting her apartment on fire.
Firefighters found Knoll’s partly burned body in her home in central Paris, and an autopsy showed that the attackers stabbed her 11 times, mainly in the throat.
Both of the defendants, who met in prison while serving sentences for theft, violence, and sexual assault, have denied killing Knoll, have repeatedly changed their stories, and have blamed the other.
Prosecutors are treating the killing as an anti-Semitic hate crime because Carrimbacus claimed that he overheard Mihoub — the son of one of Knoll’s neighbors — “talking about Jews’ money and their wealth.”
Carrimbacus, who has no fixed home address, also claimed that Mihoub shouted “Allahu Akbar” when he slit Knoll’s throat.
However, Mihoub’s lawyer Charles Consigny argued that Carrimbacus “invented” the motive of anti-Semitism and “the prosecutors weren’t brave enough to drop it in the face of public pressure.”
“It will take a miracle for the truth to come out of their mouths,” Gilles-William Goldnadel, a lawyer representing Knoll’s family, told reporters.
Goldnadel also said that he expects a “severe punishment” from the court.
Court documents alleged that the defendants killed someone “they knew to be vulnerable owing to her physical condition, and which in addition was carried out because of her Jewish faith.”
If convicted, the defendants could face life imprisonment.
The trial is due to last until Nov. 10.
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