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July 5, 2021 11:18 am

Antisemitic Gang Who Assaulted and Robbed Jewish Family in Paris Sentenced by French Court

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Roger Pinto and his son David speaking on Israeli television shortly after their ordeal at the hands of an antisemitic gang in 2017. Photo: I24

A court in Paris has sentenced nine individuals to prison sentences ranging from four to 12 years after they were convicted for a vicious gang robbery of a French Jewish family in 2017 that was motivated by antisemitism.

Three of the nine offenders sentenced by the Assize Court in Seine-Saint-Denis were directly involved in the Sept. 2017 assault on Roger Pinto, who was 83-years-old at the time, his wife Mireille, who was 73, and their son David, who was 41. The leader of the gang received the longest sentence, at 12 years.

Two other robbers received eight and seven year sentences respectively, while the remaining members of the gang who received the money and valuables stolen from the Pintos were sentenced to four years.

The family’s ordeal began when David Pinto discovered on the morning of the attack that the electricity was not working in the family home in the Livry-Gargan neighborhood of Paris. Going down into the basement to check the electricity meter, David opened a door which enabled three assailants, who had set a trap by cutting off the electricity supply, to force their way into the house.

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Having gagged David, the three men dragged him to the first floor of the family home. There, they encountered his mother, Mireille, who managed to alert her husband, Roger, before she too was grabbed by the gang. Mireille said that she was “caught and gagged” by the three men.

The gang also attacked Roger Pinto, beating him unconscious. Mr. Pinto said that as he regained consciousness, he heard one of the gang members tell him,  “You are Jewish, we know that the Jews have a lot of money and you will give us what you have. If you do not give us what we ask you, we’ll kill you.”

Roger Pinto continued: “The three men had a screwdriver and a knife, which they constantly threatened us with. They threatened to kill us. That was unbearable. These thugs took our credit cards, took all the goods we had, jewelry from my wife.”

The Pinto family were tied and locked in a room while the gang carried out the robbery, which included several thousand euros in cash. After several hours, Mireille Pinto managed to call the emergency services using David’s phone. “For us it was really an eternity,” she said. “It was a very traumatic event.”

The Pintos’ lawyer, Marc Bensimhon, hailed Friday’s decision as a “victory for the law.”

“The aggravating circumstance of antisemitism has been confirmed by the Assize Court, which will set a precedent,” Bensimhon commented.

Among the mutations of antisemitism that French Jews have confronted in recent years is the myth that Jews are an uncommonly wealthy community with the widespread habit of keeping cash and expensive valuables in their homes. In 2014, a young Jewish couple in the suburb of Creteil was subjected to a violent robbery, during which the woman was raped, that was motivated by the same belief. More recently, in 2018, the body of Mireille Knoll, an 85-year-old Holocaust survivor, was found burned and with multiple stab wounds in her Paris apartment after she was robbed by two men who targeted her because she was Jewish.

French Jews were anxiously watching the trial of the Pinto family’s assailants, which began on June 21. The community was outraged in April this year after the country’s highest court excused excuse from trial the accused antisemitic killer of Sarah Halimi, a Jewish woman brutally murdered in her Paris apartment in April 2017, on the grounds that the perpetrator’s intake of cannabis had rendered him temporarily insane and therefore not criminally liable.

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