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CRIME

Matignon grapples with new Corsican murder

French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault has asked two cabinet ministers to pay urgent visits to Corsica in the wake of another high-profile assassination on the island.

Matignon grapples with new Corsican murder
Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault

Business leader Jacques Nacer was shot dead by a masked gunman on Wednesday night as he was closing up the clothes shop he owns in Ajaccio, Corsican police said.

Nacer, president of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of South Corsica, is the 17th person killed on the “Island of Beauty” this year and the fourth in less than a month.

Ayrault directed Interior Minister Manuel Valls and Justice Minister Christiane Taubira to visit Corsica in a bid to bring the spiral of violence to an end.

The prime minister said he wanted to demonstrate “the determination of the government to combat the violence on the island.”

The two ministers were to meet with justice and elected officials in Ajaccio.

Nacer, 59, was secretary general of the Athletic Club Ajaccio football club and new well the club’s president, Alain Orsoni, the former nationalist leader who has himself been the target of assassination attempts, Le Parisien.fr reported.

One of Orsoni’s associate’s, the lawyer Antoine Sollarco, was killed in October.

The masked gunman shot Nacer several times before feeling on foot without being caught, Ajaccio prosecutor Xavier Bonhomme said.

The victim died before he could be treated at hospital.

Bonhomme described the attack as “a horrible crime”.

French President Francois Hollande condemned the violence on Corsica, stating that it would be necessary to seek out the “root causes” of the series of assassinations.

“We must, with the justice department, shine a light on what has happened and seek out the guilty,” Hollande told reporters in Paris after news of the latest murder emerged.

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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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