After a Brief Trial, Eight Men Have Been Found Guilty of Stealing a Banksy Mural From the Bataclan in Paris
A Paris criminal court has found eight men guilty of stealing a door from the Bataclan concert hall that had been painted by the British street artist Banksy. They have been ordered to serve their sentences outside of prison, wearing electronic tracking bracelets for the duration of their sentences.
Banksy made the work on an alley door entrance in 2018 as an homage to the victims of the jihadist terrorist attacks at the Bataclan, in which 90 people died, on November 13, 2015.
One man, Kévin Gadouche, who is in his 30s, has been sentenced to four years in prison, including two years on probation. Two other men in their 30s, Franck Aubert and Danis Gérizier, have been sentenced to three years in prison, including 18 months on probation, according to French daily Le Figaro. All three men had pleaded guilty but argued that they had been unaware of the symbolic importance of Banksy’s work.
The judge ruled that the defendants could serve the behind-bars part of their sentences outside of prison and wear electronic bracelets instead. The sentences fell short of the demands of the prosecution, which had called for the men to be remanded or returned to prison.
A fourth man—Mehdi Meftah, a 41-year-old street art aficionado, T-shirt designer and lottery millionaire—was sentenced to three years in prison, including 20 months behind bars. He, too, has been instructed to wear an electronic bracelet rather than serve time in jail. The prosecution had alleged that he had been the mastermind of the theft; however, the court found that he had only received the stolen door.
According to Le Monde, the door was transported to Meftah’s property in the Var, France, on the day of the attack. His lawyer Clarisse Serre said that Meftah had agreed to keep the door “out of friendship” before hiding it in Italy.
Three other men who were involved in transporting Banksy’s work at different stages were sentenced to 10 months in prison, while a 58-year-old Italian owner of a hotel in Abruzzo, in southern Italy, where the painting was stored, was handed down a six-month suspended sentence.
Three masked men stole the painted door depicting a downcast girl in a headscarf, known as La Jeune Fille Triste, shortly after 4 a.m. on the night of January 26, 2019. After being removed from the Bataclan, the work was driven away in a van. It was eventually found in June 2020 in an attic on a farm in Italy.
The Bataclan expressed its “profound indignation” over the attack in a statement. Referring to Banksy’s work, it said: “This symbol of remembrance belonging to everyone, local residents, Parisians, and citizens of the world, was taken away.”
Defense lawyer Romain Ruiz, who represents Aubert, was pleased with the “very intelligent” ruling, he told Le Figaro. “It’s been three years that we’ve been told a total fable of an attack on the memory of the victims [of the Bataclan massacre] and I’m very happy that the court stated that this was false.”
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