Eight go on trial for stealing Banksy artwork from Paris attacks site

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8 gentlemen go on trial in Paris on Wednesday accused of stealing a Banksy artwork, painted on the door of the Bataclan concert location to honour 90 folks killed in the 2015 terror attacks.

The 7 French defendants and a single Italian are suspected of removing the metallic doorway from the building ahead of dawn in January 2019 and transporting it to Italy.

It was decorated in 2018 with the stencil of a mournful youthful woman by the nameless British street artist, giving it an estimated value of up to just one million euros ($1.1 million).

A white van with concealed numberplates was viewed halting on January 26 in an alleyway working alongside the Bataclan in central Paris.

Lots of concertgoers fled by using the identical alley when the Bataclan grew to become the focal place of France’s worst at any time assaults given that Environment War II, as Islamic Point out group jihadists in November 2015 killed 130 folks at a string of websites throughout the money.

Three of all those on trial, in their 30s, confessed to the theft when they ended up arrested, while two stated they have been only carrying out the orders of a guy who was not existing when the doorway was removed, Mehdi Meftah.

Meftah, 41, who established a luxury brand name of T-shirts embellished with 18-carat gold bars after professing to get 7.5 million euros in the lottery, instructed law enforcement that his good friend Kevin G., also on trial, presented him with the Banksy unannounced.

This edition was confirmed by Kevin G., a person of the three considered to have taken off the door, but contested by the other two.

Four far more defendants, aged involving 31 and 58, are accused of transporting the stolen artwork.

Generators and grinders 

On the early morning of the theft, 3 masked males climbed out of the van, lower the hinges with angle grinders run by a generator and still left inside 10 minutes, in what an investigating judge known as a “meticulously geared up” heist.

A burglary of a generator and angle grinders from a Do-it-yourself store in France’s southeastern Isere area 12 times earlier place law enforcement on the path of 3 of the suspects, who ended up recorded chatting about the artwork theft when their phones ended up tapped.

Phone documents confirmed the gentlemen were in Paris on the night of the heist.

Investigators pieced together the door’s route throughout France and into Italy, exactly where it was observed in June 2020 on a farm in Sant’Omero, around the Adriatic coastline.

“The symbolism (of the theft) is what it is, and no a single is making an attempt to perform it down,” stated Margaux Durand-Poincloux, a single of the defence lawyers.

“But in my client’s circumstance, it continues to be an aggravated theft in which he did not choose the focus on,” she extra.

In a separate courtroom scenario, the metropolis-owned operator of the concert corridor is battling the return of the Banksy-embellished door to the homeowners of the making.

Will work by the street artist, generally bearing a political message, have fetched tens of millions of pounds at auction.

The sole surviving attacker, Salah Abdeslam, is struggling with a lifetime phrase in prison at a marathon demo, which opened in Paris final September, with prosecutors established to make final arguments and sentencing requests this week.