Three on trial for desecrating Jewish cemetery

11th September 2007, Comments 0 comments

COLMAR, France, Sept 10, 2007 (AFP) - Three men went on trial in eastern France on Monday for daubing swastikas, Nazi SS insignia and anti-Semitic slogans on more than 110 graves in a Jewish cemetery in 2004.

COLMAR, France, Sept 10, 2007 (AFP) - Three men went on trial in eastern France on Monday for daubing swastikas, Nazi SS insignia and anti-Semitic slogans on more than 110 graves in a Jewish cemetery in 2004.

Emmanuel Rist, a 37-year-old former security guard, Laurent Boulanger, 27, and Laurent Peterschmitt, 28, are accused of vandalizing 117 of the 400 graves at the Herrlisheim cemetery, near the eastern city of Colmar.

The desecration of the graves -- the first in a wave of anti-Semitic attacks in the eastern Alsace region in 2004 -- drew swift condemnation from French political leaders and many had visited Herrlisheim to underscore their concern.

Rist, whom prosecutors describe as a neo-Nazi and "mastermind" of the attack, is also facing charges with Boulanger for defacing a Muslim plaque in the nearby Wattwiller military cemetery.

In addition, he faces charges for the murder and attempted murder of two Moroccan men in 2001 and 2005, also in the Alsace region.

The three men, who have admitted to the attack, are charged with desecrating graves, damage to property and inciting hatred. If convicted, they could be sentenced to up to three years in jail.

Rist allegedly told police during questioning that he chose the Herrlisheim cemetery because of the letter "H" which evoked Hitler and to celebrate the anniversary of his death of April 30 1945, according to prosecutors.

Swastikas, Celtic crosses and Nazi inscriptions were found on the graves while a plaque at the entrance of the cemetery bearing a Jewish prayer had been defaced with the writing "Juden raus" (Jews Out).

On the first day of the trial, Peterschmitt testified that he befriended Rist who was his co-worker at a security firm and described how he "could talk for hours" about the Third Reich.

Peterschmitt said Rist had hung a painting of Hitler in his apartment after the attack on the Herrlisheim cemetery.

The trial continues until Wednesday.

AFP

Subject: French news

0 Comments To This Article