Genocide Monument Stolen in France

PARIS (Combined Sources)–Police in France said Sunday that they had no leads following the theft of an Armenian genocide monument in a southwestern Paris suburb the previous night. The 660-pound bronze statue was stolen two days after the French national assembly voted to make denial of the Armenian genocide illegal, but a connection between the two events has not been established. "We have no idea if this is a political statement or simply crooks wanting to resell the metal. Either way, it is a despicable act," Jean Levain, Mayor of Chaville, told AFP on Sunday. Police in Chaville, Hauts-de-Seine, were expected to view on Monday tapes from security cameras at the location where the crime occurred. There was no vandalism or message at the scene, the municipality said. Hilda Tchoboian, president of the Armenian European Federation said Thursday’s bill criminalizing the denial of the Armenian Genocide was precisely designed for these types of criminal acts. The Armenian community in Chaville was "shocked and outraged," said Hirant Norcen, vice-president of the Cultural Association of the Armenian Church in Chaville. "Whatever the reason for the theft, it is still unacceptable," Norcen said. "Police say it might have been stolen for the metal, but it seems too much of a coincidence that this should have happened just after parliament voted the Armenia bill," said Stephane Topalian, a member of the Armenian church council. A silent march lasting several minutes after a mass and the laying of a wreath were organized for Sunday midday. Jean-Jacques Guillet, a regional assembly member, expressed his "indignation" and declared that "the irresponsible barbarism which violated this symbol of remembrance should be punished ruthlessly." The Armenian community gave the monument, valued by the municipality at $60,000 dollars, to the city in 2002 in memory of the 1915-1917 massacres of Armenia’s by the Ottoman Turks.


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