• France's news in English

French teens charged for defacing Jewish graves

Ben McPartland · 19 Feb 2015, 08:43

Published: 19 Feb 2015 08:43 GMT+01:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

The boys, aged 15 to 17, were charged with "the desecration of burial places due to the religion of the deceased" and with deliberately vandalising property on public land, according to local prosecutor Philippe Vannier.

Some 250 tombs were vandalised last week at a Jewish cemetery in the northeastern town of Sarre-Union, with tombstones pushed over and vaults opened.

The charges were in line with those demanded by Vannier earlier on Wednesday after he argued that there was a clear "anti-Semitic motive" behind the boys' alleged act.

The youngest boy came forward earlier this week after being taken aback by the scale of the reaction across the country to the vandalism. He denied any anti-Semitic motive from the group of boys, none of whom has a criminal record.

As well as being officially charged, the five teenagers have been banned from going to Sarre-Union, Vannier said.

Four of the boys have been assigned to juvenile centres, while a fifth has been placed in the care of "a trusted individual", he added.

Vannier said the vandalism, which happened on Thursday last week but was only discovered Sunday, appeared to be part of a game that went wrong.

The damage caused a wave of indignation in France, which is still reeling from bloody attacks by Islamist gunmen in Paris last month and after anti-Semitic attacks in Copenhagen over the weekend.

Story continues below…

President Francois Hollande, who visited the cemetery on Tuesday, vowed the state would protect French Jews.

"I know some are asking if they can live in peace in their country, and ask who will protect them against those who wish them harm," he said.

"One more time, I want to give the Republic's response  -- that it will protect you with all its force."

Ben McPartland (ben.mcpartland@thelocal.com)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Today's headlines
How life for expats in France has changed over the years
A market in Eymet, southwestern France. Photo: AFP

Foreigners in France explain how life has changed over the years.

London calling for Calais youths, but only a chosen few
Photo: AFP

Dozens of Calais minors are still hanging their hopes on help from the UK, but not all will be so lucky.

17 different ways to talk about sex in French
Photo: Helga Weber/Flickr

Fancy a quick run with the one-legged man?

Yikes! This is what a rat-infested French jail looks like
Photo: YouTube/France Bleu TV.

This video is not for sufferers of ratophobia (or musophobia as the condition is officially called).

France to allow Baby Jesus in Town Halls this Christmas
Photo: AFP

Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus are safe to go on display again this year, it seems.

National Front posts locations of migrants in French town
The National Front courts controversy. Photo: AFP

"Local tax payers have a right to know," says local far-right party chief.

Paris thieves use tear gas to steal €500,000 of watches
Photo: AFP

The thieves pretended to be couriers then threatened staff with tear gas to get the watches.

Bataclan survivor recounts attack in chilling drawings
Photo: BFMTV screengrab

One survivor has recounted the horrific night through illustrations.

Anger among French police grows as Hollande vows talks
French police demonstrate on the Champs Elysées. Photo: AFP

A fourth night of protests shows government efforts to ease anger among French police have been fruitless.

UK border must move back, says 'next French president'
Photo: AFP

If favourite Alain Juppé is elected, Britain and France are in for some difficult negotiations.

Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
Why Toulouse is THE place to be in France right now
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Video: New homage to Paris shows the 'real side' of city
The 'most dangerous' animals you can find in France
Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
Swap London fogs for Paris frogs: France woos the Brits
Anger after presenter kisses woman's breasts on live TV
Is France finally set for a cold winter this year?
IN PICS: The story of the 'ghost Metro stations' of Paris
How to make France's 'most-loved' dish: Magret de Canard
Welcome to the flipside: 'I'm not living the dream in France'
Do the French really still eat frogs' legs?
French 'delicacies' foreigners really find hard to stomach
French are the 'world's most pessimistic' about the future
Why the French should not be gloomy about the future
This is the most useful French lesson you will ever have. How to get angry
Why is there a giant clitoris in a field in southern France?
French pastry wars: Pain au chocolat versus chocolatine
Countdown: The ten dishes the French love the most
Expats or immigrants in France: Is there a difference?
How the French reinvented dozens of English words
The ups and downs of being both French and English
How Brexit vote has changed life for expats in France
Twelve French insults we'd love to have in English
What's on in France: Ten of the best events in October
jobs available