France’s elite police stormed into the flat of an 85-year-old retiree in the southern city of Marseille twice over the past fortnight, in search of a dangerous suspect.

"/> France’s elite police stormed into the flat of an 85-year-old retiree in the southern city of Marseille twice over the past fortnight, in search of a dangerous suspect.

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OFFBEAT

Elite police mistake granny’s home for criminal hideout, twice

France’s elite police stormed into the flat of an 85-year-old retiree in the southern city of Marseille twice over the past fortnight, in search of a dangerous suspect.

The retiree, referred to as “Francesca” by the French press, was woken up by the sound of the police blowing up her front door on October 25th. 

Speaking to the French daily La Provence, she said balaclava-wearing men rushed into her bedroom at 6am and pushed her onto the bed. The policemen then tore through her flat before realising their suspect lived next door. The damage done is estimated at €2,000.

On Thursday last week, the elite police force again forced their way into her flat, this time using a battering ram to break through her front door. The police force believed the suspect had escaped and was hiding on Francesca’s balcony. 

However, the two balconies are not connected and the suspect had escaped via another balcony. He was later arrested outside the building.

The police were tracking a suspect accused of taking part in a hold-up on a jeweller’s shop near the southern city of Toulon. 

Police say he was a dangerous criminal accused of shooting on the police with Kalashnikovs.

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CRIME

French court convicts 8 for stealing Banksy from Paris terror attack site

A French court on Thursday convicted eight men for the theft and handling of a Banksy painting paying homage to the victims of the 2015 attack on the Bataclan concert hall in Paris.

French court convicts 8 for stealing Banksy from Paris terror attack site

Three men in their 30s who admitted to the 2019 theft were given prison sentences, one of four years and two of three, although they will be able to serve them wearing electronic tracking bracelets rather than behind bars.

Another man, a 41-year-old millionaire lottery winner and street art fan accused of being the mastermind of the heist, was given three years in jail for handling stolen goods after judges found the main allegation unproven. His sentence will also be served with a bracelet.

Elsewhere in the capital, the defence was making its final arguments in the trial of the surviving suspects in the 2015 Paris attacks themselves, with a verdict expected on June 29.

‘Acted like vultures’ 

British street artist Banksy painted his “sad girl” stencil on the metal door of the Bataclan in memory of the 90 people killed there on November 13th, 2015.

A white van with concealed number-plates was seen stopping on January 26, 2019 in an alleyway running alongside the central Paris music venue.

Many concertgoers fled via the same alley when the Bataclan became the focal point of France’s worst ever attacks since World War II, as Islamic State group jihadists killed 130 people at a string of sites across the capital.

On the morning of the theft, three masked men climbed out of the van, cut the hinges with angle grinders powered by a generator and left within 10 minutes, in what an investigating judge called a “meticulously prepared” heist.

Prosecutor Valerie Cadignan told the court earlier this month that the perpetrators had not sought to debase the memory of the attack victims, but “being aware of the priceless value of the door were looking to make a profit”.

She said the thieves “acted like vultures, like people who steal objects without any respect for what they might represent”.

During the trial, Bataclan staff said the theft sparked “deep indignation”, adding that the painted door was a “symbol of remembrance that belongs to everyone, locals, Parisians, citizens of the world”.

Investigators pieced together the door’s route across France and into Italy, where it was found in June 2020 on a farm in Sant’Omero, near the Adriatic coast.

Three men involved in transporting the door were each jailed for 10 months, while a 58-year-old Italian man who owns a hotel where it was temporarily stored received a six-month suspended sentence.

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