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CRIME

Macron to visit Marseille as city battles ‘explosion’ of gang-related violence

France's justice minister promised more magistrates for Marseille on Tuesday to help clear a backlog of cases as the port city deals with an "explosion" of drug-related gang violence that has seen four people killed in the last week.

Macron to visit Marseille as city battles 'explosion' of gang-related violence
Photo: Franck Pennant/AFP

Eric Dupond-Moretti visited France’s third-biggest city on Tuesday, reflecting concern about crime and insecurity there following a spike in tit-for-tat gang attacks that saw one man burned alive inside a car at the weekend.

“The justice system needs resources,” Dupond-Moretti told reporters, adding that he would “respond favourably in the coming days” to demands from the heads of Marseille’s court system for more magistrates to prosecute and judge suspects.

Two people died overnight Saturday-Sunday in a drive-by shooting in the poverty-wracked 14th district of Marseille, while another man was forced into a car in the centre of the city that was set on fire shortly afterwards.

Last Wednesday, a 14-year-old was killed by automatic gunfire, also in the northern 14th district, close to an area known as a drug-dealing hotspot.

Marseille’s chief prosecutor, Dominique Laurens, told a press conference on Monday that there had been an “explosion” in gang-related murders since the middle of June.

Twelve people have been killed in the last two months, according to police figures.

French President Emmanuel Macron is set to visit next week and address the city’s entrenched poverty and public order problems.

Marseille’s northern districts, some of France’s poorest areas and a world away from the wealthy seafront neighbourhoods, are the focus of the city’s drug and gang problems.

“My children want us to leave. It’s a disaster what we have to live through here,” a mother in the 14th district told AFP on Tuesday on condition of anonymity.

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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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