Prosecutors Don't Take Kindly to Coffin Stunt at Eiffel

They say display mentioning Ukraine was an act of psychological violence
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jun 4, 2024 1:22 PM CDT
Prosecutors Don't Take Kindly to Coffin Stunt at Eiffel
Police officers patrol the Trocadero plaza near the Eiffel Tower in Paris in this file photo.   (AP Photo/Michel Euler, File)

Three people were released from custody Monday pending further investigation after they allegedly placed five coffins at the foot of the Eiffel Tower. According to officials at the Paris prosecutor's office, the three—citizens of Bulgaria, Germany, and Ukraine—placed the coffins, covered with a French flag that included an inscription reading "French soldiers of Ukraine," near the tower on Saturday, per the AP. The motive for the incident was unclear. France is on its highest alert level ahead of the July 26-Aug. 11 Summer Games in Paris and the lavish open-air ceremony on the River Seine, of which the Eiffel Tower will feature prominently as part of the Olympic rings display.

The prosecutor's office asked that the men be charged with premeditated violence. Placing coffins at the foot of the Paris landmark that millions of tourists visit every year "is considered an act of psychological violence," and caused employees of the landmark and others "an inability to work," said officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because of a pending investigation. An investigative judge questioned the men on Monday but did not file charges. Instead, the judge named the men as assisted witnesses, a special status under French law, the prosecutor's office said. They will remain free pending further investigation.

Those detained in the Eiffel Tower incident include the driver of the vehicle that transported the coffins, a 39-year-old Bulgarian, as well as two people associated with him—a 25-year-old German man and a 16-year-old Ukrainian, who was arrested aboard a Paris-Berlin bound Flixbus, the officials said. The Eiffel Tower coffins appeared after other strange incidents in recent months worrying French authorities. Last month, graffiti showing red hands appeared on the Holocaust Memorial in Paris. And in October, stencils of blue Stars of David appeared on Paris buildings. French authorities accused Russian security services of stirring up controversy around the stars. French Foreign Minister Stephane Sejourne said both incidents involved people paid to destabilize and drive wedges in French society. (More France stories.)

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