Armed assailants who earlier this week broke into the suburban Paris residence of a Jewish couple and raped the woman while her boyfriend was kept at bay were undoubtedly motivated by anti-Semitism, French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve stated Wednesday.
The “anti-Semitic connection seems proven,” Cazeneuve said, adding that an initial investigation indicated that the assailants chose their targets “based on the idea that being Jewish means having money.”
Two of the suspected assailants were found in possession of some of the couple’s jewelry and arrested shortly after the attack, which occurred Monday in the suburb of Creteil.
A third suspect was apprehended by police on Wednesday. One of the assailants reportedly lives a block away from the couple, who made no secret of their Jewishness.
The three suspects in the case, who are known to police, appeared in court on Wednesday and bond was set, Le Monde reported.
The three men were said to have carried handguns and a short-barreled rifle when they forced their way into the apartment owned by the young man’s parents, the paper reported.
The suspects then separated the 19-year-old Jewish woman and her 21-year-old Jewish partner. One suspect raped the woman while another guarded her partner and a third withdrew money from a cash machine. The assailants spent approximately one hour inside the house, police said, ransacking it.
Before the rape, the men demanded that the couple hand over their credit cards and codes, the couple told police. The assailants told the couple they shouldn’t try to pretend they didn’t have money because they knew they were Jewish, the victims said.
Earlier Wednesday, Severine Benayoun, a lawyer for the victims’ family, told French media that one of the suspected assailants borrowed sugar from the couple days before the attack, Le Monde also reported.
The prosecution linked the attack to one on a 70-year-old Jewish man who was badly beaten at his Creteil home on November 10 by three men who had referred to his being Jewish during the attack.
AFP contributed to this report.