PARIS – Two people have been arrested over the murder of an 85-year-old Holocaust survivor in Paris that is being investigated as a suspected anti-Semitic attack, a French judicial source told CNN on Tuesday.
Mireille Knoll was stabbed 11 times in her apartment in the 11th arrondissement of Paris before her home was set on fire, according to government spokesman Benjamin Griveaux, who recounted the attack on Twitter. Her body was discovered in her apartment on Friday.
Two men are suspected of carrying out the attack, one of them being Knoll’s 27-year-old neighbor, who was previously jailed for sexually assaulting the daughter of Knoll’s domestic helper, the judicial source told CNN.
The other is a 21-year-old homeless man, who was known to police for acts of violence. The source did not name the men.
The two men have been indicted for “voluntary homicide because of the true or supposed religion of the victim, theft aggravated by three circumstances and degradation of the property of others by a dangerous means,” the same source said earlier.
Knoll evaded the Vel’ d’Hiv Roundup, which was ordered by Nazi occupiers in 1942 and resulted in the mass arrest of 13,000 French Jews, according to French lawmaker Meyer Habib, Reuters reported.
Those detained were held at the Vel’ d’Hiv cycling track in Paris before thousands were deported to the Auschwitz concentration camp in Nazi-occupied Poland.
On Monday, French President Emmanuel Macron described Knoll’s killing as a “dreadful crime” on Twitter and said: “I reaffirm my absolute determination to fight against anti-Semitism.”
In a statement on Monday, French Interior Minister Gerard Collomb said: “All the necessary means will be mobilized so that we will figure out the motivations of the authors of this barbaric act, which reminds us of the darkest hours of our history. To attack a Jew, it is to attack France and the values that establish the foundation of the nation.”
The murder comes a year after the killing of Sarah Halimi-Attal, 65, whose death is being investigated by prosecutors as anti-Semitic.
The French Jewish community, which at approximately 400,000 strong is the largest in western Europe, has seen an increase in anti-Semitic attacks in recent years.
Knoll’s murder was decried by Jewish organizations in France. In a statement, the Representative Council of French Jewish Institutions (CRIF) condemned the “barbarity of this murder” and urged transparency from the authorities so “the reasons for this barbaric crime are known to all as soon as possible.”
Haïm Korsia, the Chief Rabbi in France, alsooffered condolences on Twitter, saying: “Anti-Semitism kills. Let’s never forget it.”
CRIF has called for a rally in memory of Knoll in Paris on Wednesday.