France charges two for justifying crimes against humanity over swastikas in Paris

Pair are among 13 detained over weekend, most of whom are suspected of having sprayed Nazi symbols on the ground in French capital’s 17th district

A municipal worker cleans swastikas spray painted on columns of the Rivoli Street in central Paris, on October 11, 2020. (Stephane De Sakutin/AFP)
Illustrative: A municipal worker cleans swastikas spray painted on columns of the Rivoli Street in central Paris, on October 11, 2020. (Stephane De Sakutin/AFP)

PARIS — France charged two people with justifying a crime against humanity over Nazi swastikas that were spray-painted in northwestern Paris, a judicial source said on Wednesday.

The two were part of a group of 13 people who were detained on Saturday. The suspects, who are in their 20s and early 30s, have been described as a mixture of ultra-right activists and hooligans.

France is on alert after the killing of a teenager this month inflamed political tensions in the country, with the far-right describing the assault as “anti-white racism.”

Seven of the suspects have been known to the authorities as ultra-right activists, and another three have already been involved in “similar acts” in the past, the public prosecutor’s office said.

They are suspected of having spray-painted Nazi swastikas on the ground in the French capital’s 17th district.

The Nazis killed six million Jewish people during the Holocaust.

Apart from the swastikas, the group is suspected of spray-painting the inscription “KOB,” a reference to the notorious Kop of Boulogne, Paris Saint-Germain’s football ultras.

On Tuesday, the public prosecutor’s office said nine of the 13 people had been brought before an investigating judge.

A judicial source said authorities had filed charges against two people including public justification of a crime or misdemeanor.

The source did not provide further details but authorities earlier launched an investigation into various offenses, including justification of crimes against humanity and war crimes.

According to the judicial source, six other people were indicted on charges that they refused to hand over passcodes to their phones.

The source said the eight people were placed under judicial supervision and banned from contacting each other and carrying weapons.

A woman walks along a building whose facade was covered with Stars of David painted during the night, in the Alesia district of Paris, on October 31, 2023. (Van der Hasselt / AFP)

Last month, French prosecutors opened an investigation into dozens of Stars of David daubed on buildings around the city and its suburbs, widely condemned as antisemitic.

Prosecutors in that case said that two Moldovans had been arrested and that the action may have been carried out at the “express demand” of an individual residing abroad.

Tensions had been rising in Paris, home to large Jewish and Muslim communities, amid the war between Israel and Hamas in the wake of the massive attack by the Palestinian terror group on October 7, which killed over 1,200 people, mostly civilians. Around another 240 people of all ages were abducted by terrorists and taken hostage in Gaza.

Israel has responded with a military campaign in Gaza aimed at toppling Hamas from ruling the Palestinian enclave where it has been the de facto regime since 2007.

A temporary truce has been held for several days as Hamas releases daily quotas of women and children hostages in exchange for Israel enabling increased humanitarian aid into the Strip and releasing dozens of Palestinian security prisoners incarcerated in Israel.

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