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French jeweller who shot thief becomes online hero

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2013-09-17

As social networks blaze with messages of support for the French jeweller who shot and killed a burglar in Nice last week, the dead man's family fears that the judicial process could be swayed by public opinion.

The family of a French robber shot dead in the  Riviera city of Nice last week has expressed disgust at the outpouring of online support for the jeweler who was both the burglar’s victim and his killer.

“Justice is not carried out on Facebook or Twitter,” the family’s lawyer, Philippe Soussi, said at a press conference following a demonstration in support of the jeweler, 67-year-old Stephan Turk.

Turk shot 19-year-old Anthony Asli as he was leaving Turk’s jewelry store after robbing it. An accomplice escaped on a motorbike.

“We’ve lost track of the meaning of [Turk’s] act in this incident,” Soussi proceeded to say at the press conference. “Legitimate self-defence is one thing; vigilante self-defence is another. Justice cannot be handed down under the pressure of public opinion.”

Messages of support for Turk have flooded the Internet since the incident. A Facebook page entitled “Support for the Nice jeweler” had roughly 1.6 million followers as of Tuesday mid-day, while an online petition pledging support for Turk has drawn over 58,000 signatures.

In France,  98% of people accused of manslaughter end up going to prison. But Turk, who has been charged with murder, has been allowed to remain confined to an undisclosed location as long as he wears an electronic bracelet.

‘People are defending a murderer!’

Alexandra Asli, the sister of the dead burglar, has expressed her shock at the “magnitude” of the public reaction.

She believes “people are sullying the memory” of her brother.

“He was not violent. The weapons he carried were fake,” Asli said at the press conference, describing her brother as “impressionable”. “He was full of life, he was in love…OK, he was a little delinquent. But today, people are defending a murderer!”

As for Turk, Asli said that she hopes to see him go to prison. “He shot [my brother] in the back. He killed him as if he were a dog,” she said.
 

Date created : 2013-09-17

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