International News

The prosecutor is asking for a prison sentence for Banksy work theft from the scene of the attack in Paris

#prosecutor #prison #sentence #Banksy #work #theft #scene #attack #Paris

French prosecutors on Friday called for prison terms for eight men accused of stealing a Banksy artwork painted on the door of the Bataclan concert hall in Paris to commemorate 90 people killed in the 2015 terrorist attacks.

The seven French defendants and one Italian are suspected of removing the metal door from the building before dawn in January 2019 and transporting it to Italy.

It was adorned with the anonymous British street artist’s stencil of a sad young woman in 2018, giving it an estimated value of up to one million euros ($1.1 million).

Prosecutor Valerie Cadignan told the court on Friday that the three men who confessed to the theft should be sentenced to three or four years in prison.

She said the alleged mastermind behind the robbery, Mehdi Meftah, should be sentenced to three years in prison with an additional three-year suspended sentence and a fine of €150,000.

For the others, the prosecutor recommended prison terms of 18 months or more.

“The theft of the door caused a lot of emotions and great disturbances of public order,” the prosecutor told the court.

She acknowledged that the perpetrators did not seek to debase the memory of the victims of the attack, but “aware of the inestimable value of the door, attempted to make a profit.”

She said the thieves “acted like vultures, like people stealing objects with no respect for what they might represent”.

A white van with hidden number plates pulled up in an alley next to the Bataclan in central Paris on January 26.

Many concert-goers fled down the same alley as the Bataclan became the focus of France’s worst attacks since World War II, when jihadists from the Islamic State group killed 130 people in a number of locations in the capital in November 2015.

Three of the accused, in their 30s, confessed to the theft when arrested, although two said they were only carrying out orders from Meftah, who was not present when the door was removed.

On the morning of the robbery, three masked men got out of the van, cut the hinges with angle grinders powered by a generator and left within 10 minutes in what an investigating judge described as a “meticulously prepared” raid.

Investigators pieced together the door’s route through France and into Italy, where it was found in June 2020 at a farm in Sant’Omero, near the Adriatic coast.

Final defense statements are expected later Friday and the court is scheduled to announce its verdict on June 23.

Meanwhile, the sole surviving member of the November 2015 attack team, Salah Abdeslam, faces a life sentence in an ongoing marathon trial, with the verdict set to be announced on June 29.

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