Three confess to descrating Muslim gravestones

22nd April 2007, Comments 0 comments

ARRAS, France, April 22, 2007 (AFP) - Two men and a youth have confessed to desecrating the gravestones of French Muslim soldiers in a military cemetery in northeastern France, the prosecutor said Sunday.

ARRAS, France, April 22, 2007 (AFP) - Two men and a youth have confessed to desecrating the gravestones of French Muslim soldiers in a military cemetery in northeastern France, the prosecutor said Sunday.

The men, both aged 22, and a 16-year-old admitted carrying out the attack on Wednesday night for racist reasons, prosecutor Jean-Pierre Valensi said.

He said their motivation was "somewhat confused, a mix of Nazi and neo-Nazi and skinhead ideology, one of them said Hitler was his idol."

The graves of 52 soldiers were daubed on with swastikas and Nazi slogans like "Heil Hitler" in the ossuary of the Notre Dame de Lorette cemetery, France's biggest military graveyard, near the town of Arras, where the remains of many thousands of soldiers killed in World War I are buried.

All three have been remanded in custody. The two adults will appear in court in Arras on Wednesday, where they could face being jailed for five years and fined 75,000 euros (102,000 dollars). The minor will be dealt with by a juvenile court.

Valensi said the three young men, from two small towns in France's northern Pas-de-Calais region, had all claimed to have been intoxicated on the night in question after drinking 12 cans of beer each.

"They are caught up un their ideology and do not realise the seriousness of what they have done and that they have attacked a community," said Valensi.

"The attack was planned in detail. They located the place, they bought paint bombs, they gave each other a task (to paint the gravestones etc.) and they wore hooded tops," he said.

The men were apprehended after a walker spotted their car near the cemetery. Police found paint bombs in the car and at their homes and analysis showed that the paint was the same kind used in the graveyard.

The prosecutor said none of them had previous criminal convictions.

Five people were originally arrested over the desecration but two young women were subsequently released without charge.


Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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