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'I'm the real victim' says vigilante Riviera jeweller
Stephan Turk risks spending the rest of his life behind bars if he is found guilty of " voluntary homicide" the French equivalent of first degree murder. Screengrab: Europe 1

'I'm the real victim' says vigilante Riviera jeweller

AFP/The Local · 18 Sep 2013, 14:56

Published: 18 Sep 2013 14:56 GMT+02:00

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Stephan Turk, the 67-year-old jeweller from the southern French city of Nice, risks spending the rest of his life behind bars if he is found guilty of " voluntary homicide" the French equivalent of first degree murder.

He is under house arrest after shooting dead Anthony Asli, who had attacked him while he robbed his shop at gunpoint last week.

Turk admits to shooting Asli in the back on September 11th as he and another robber were fleeing on a scooter with gems stolen from his shop. The driver of the scooter escaped.

The thieves had punched and kicked the jeweller before forcing him to open his safe at gunpoint, behaviour that Turk's many supporters believe should be taken into account when judging him for opening fire as they sped away.

Since then the case has sparked a debate in France about the use of force in the defense of property with many French people rallying in support of the businessman.

On Wednesday he spoke out for the first time.

“Why am I guilty?” the shop owner told Europe 1 on Wednesday, before launching into a defense. "I'm more of a victim than him. It’s him who decided come to my place with weapons and assault me. He violated my rights in the shop. He took my merchandise.”

Asked why he was in possession of a weapon in the first place, Turk said: “I'm a jeweller living in a very very crime-ridden area. Why do I have a weapon? To defend myself, it’s very simple. Look at what is happening!”

While expressing his regret for the victim and his family, Turk said the man’s father was to blame for his son’s violent behavior.

“Yes, of course, I am sorry for him and for his family. He’s not to blame, but his father! The young man has already been involved in 14 incidents,” he told Europe 1.

Story continues below…

“Do you know what his father told the paper? ‘My son needed money.’ But that’s not right!”

Anthony's brother Yannick condemned the jeweller's remarks. "My brother wasn't (notorious French gangster) Mesrine! He was a little kid, like there are in many neighbourhoods. He (Turk) shouldn't be talking about him.
"He has already killed him and now he wants to slander him."
On Tuesday France’s Interior Minister Manuel Valls said that while he “understands the concerns and anger of our fellow citizens”, that “it is now up to justice to shed light on everything”.

This desire for justice is echoed by Turk himself.

“We’re waiting for justice,” Turk said. “I have great confidence in justice. I'm not an upholder of the law. It's a critical situation for me and for the victim."

AFP/The Local (sophie.inge@thelocal.com)

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