Suspects in Paris Holocaust memorial defacement fled abroad: prosecutors

AFP - [email protected]
Suspects in Paris Holocaust memorial defacement fled abroad: prosecutors
Anti-Semitic graffiti on buildings in the Paris area where the Holocaust memorial was vandalised. (Photo by Antonin UTZ / AFP)

French police have tracked three suspects in last week's defacement of the Paris Holocaust memorial across the border into Belgium, prosecutors said.


The suspects were caught on security footage as they moved through Paris before "departing for Belgium from the Bercy bus station" in southeast Paris, prosecutors said.

Investigators added that the suspects' "reservations had been made from Bulgaria".

An investigation was launched after the memorial was vandalised with anti-Semitic image on the anniversary of the first major round-up of French Jews under the Nazis in 1941.

On May 14, red hands were found daubed on the Wall of the Righteous at the Paris Holocaust memorial, which lists 3,900 people honoured for saving Jews during the Nazi occupation of France in World War Two.

Prosecutors are investigating damage to a protected historical building for national, ethnic, racial or religious motives.

Similar tags were found elsewhere in the Marais district of central Paris, historically a centre of French Jewish life.

The hands echoed imagery used earlier this month by students demonstrating for a ceasefire in Israel's campaign against the Palestinian militant group Hamas in Gaza.

Their discovery prompted a new wave of outrage over anti-Semitism.

“The Wall of the Righteous at the Shoah (Holocaust) Memorial was vandalised overnight,” Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo said in a statement, calling it an “unspeakable act”.

It was “despicable” to target the Holocaust Memorial, Yonathan Arfi, president of the Representative Council of Jewish Institutions in France (CRIF) wrote on X, formerly Twitter, calling the act a, “hateful rallying cry against Jews”.


French President Emmanuel Macron condemned the act as one of “odious anti-Semitism”.

The vandalism “damages the memory” both of those who saved Jews in the Holocaust and the victims, he wrote on X.

“The (French) Republic, as always, will remain steadfast in the face of odious anti-Semitism,” he added.

Around 10 other spots, including schools and nurseries, around the historic Marais district home to many Jews were similarly tagged, central Paris district mayor Ariel Weil told AFP.

France has the largest Jewish population of any country outside Israel and the United States, as well as Europe’s largest Muslim community.

The country has been on high alert for anti-Semitic acts since Hamas’s October 7 attack on southern Israel and the state's campaign of reprisals in Gaza in the months since.

In February, a French source told AFP that Paris's internal security service believed Russia's FSB security service was behind an October graffiti campaign tagging stars of David on Paris buildings.

A Moldovan couple was arrested in the case.



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