‘I’m the real victim’ says vigilante Riviera jeweller

A jeweller in Nice who is facing murder charges for shooting dead an armed robber in the back outside his shop last week has made public defense of his actions, telling a French broadcaster that he was the 'real victim' and blamed the robber's family for his death.

'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

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.

“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."

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French court orders partial release for convicted Corsican nationalist

A French court on Tuesday ordered the partial release of a Corsican nationalist who has served 24 years in jail for the 1998 murder of a top French official.

French court orders partial release for convicted Corsican nationalist

Under the ruling, Pierre Alessandri will be allowed out of jail to work for a landscaping company in the daytime and will be granted a full conditional release in a year if he behaves well.

The relaxation of Alessandri’s conditions of detention came amid tensions between the Mediterranean island’s pro-autonomy leaders and the French state, after a fellow Corsican detained in the same case was killed in a French prison in March.

Alessandri and a third Corsican detainee were transferred from mainland France to a jail in Corsica in April after the murder of Yvan Colonna.

The Paris appeals court granted Alessandri “a probationary partial release” of 12 months from February 13, the prosecutor-general Remy Heitz said.

If he behaves well, he would then be granted “conditional release” for another ten years, he said.

Alessandri’s lawyer Eric Barbolosi hailed the ruling as a “great relief”.

“For the first time in a court of appeals, the magistrates made a decision based on the criteria necessary for a conditional release, not the particular nature of the case,” he said.

Alessandri had served enough time to be eligible for such a release by 2017, and had already petitioned to be freed three times.

But national anti-terror prosecutors objected, and an appeals court barred his release.

The country’s highest court then quashed one of these decisions, ordering the Paris appeals court to re-examine it.

Colonna, a former goat herder, was announced dead on March 21 after an Islamist extremist who accused him of blasphemy strangled and suffocated him in a prison in the southern town of Arles in mainland France.

He was detained in 2003 after four years on the run, and sentenced in 2007, and then again in 2011, to life in jail over the killing in 1998 of the French government prefect of Corsica, Claude Erignac.

The killing was the most shocking of a series of attacks by pro-independence militant group FLNC.

Alessandri and another nationalist, Alain Ferrandi, had already been sentenced to life in jail in 2003 over the murder.

Ferrandi, who was transferred to the same Corsican jail, has also requested to be released on parole, and a decision is due on February 23rd.

Colonna’s murder sparked violent protests in Corsica.

It galvanised the nationalist movement and led President Emmanuel Macron’s government to offer talks about giving greater political autonomy to the territory.