The courthouse in Nice is reflected in the car window as
Stephan Turk leaves after being indicted for murder. Turk
shot a fleeing robber dead at his jewellery store last
week. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard
A jeweller in the southern French city of Nice who has
been charged with murder for killing a robber has become a hero
on social networking sites.
More than 1.5 million people have "liked" a Facebook page set
up in solidarity with 67-year-old Stephan Turk, who opened
fire on two youths who held up his store last week, fatally
shooting one of them as they attempted to flee by scooter.
The jeweller said he was acting in self-defence but
prosecutor Eric Bedos told reporters he suspected the
67-year-old trader had aimed to kill the youth who so far
goes only by the first name Anthony, 19.
The victim and an accomplice held up Turk at gunpoint as he
was opening his shop and forced him to hand over the contents
of his safe. He opened fire on them as they fled, shooting
Anthony in the back.
The victim had 14 previous convictions for petty crime. His
brother told Nice Matin newspaper he was trying to raise
money to support his pregnant girlfriend.
Turk, whose shop had already been burgled in 2012, was
released from custody and placed under house arrest. He was
fitted with an electronic bracelet.
The case has triggered an outpouring of support for the shop
owner. More than 1.53 million people had "liked" a Facebook
page titled "Support for the jeweler in Nice" by Sunday
Thousands of people wrote messages of support for Turk, many
of which accused young "scum" of sponging off the hard work
of others and accused the government of being soft on crime.
"Unfortunately we live in a country where, if we want justice
to be done, we have to do it ourselves. Full support for this
jeweller who was defending his living," one man wrote on
"My only regret is that he missed the second (attacker),"
Hundreds of others, including far right National Front deputy
Marion Marechal-Le Pen, tweeted their support for the
jeweller, while an online petition demanding his release had
garnered nearly 43,000 signatures.
The case comes after a spate of jewelery robberies along the
Cote d'Azur in recent months, including a record $136 million
diamond heist at a jewelry exhibition in the resort town of
Cannes in July.
Jewellery and watch stores have also been frequently targeted
in recent years, often by heavily armed youths.