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Visiting France

Nice shuts shops in solidarity with jeweller on murder charge

media Stephen Turk's jewellery shop in Nice Google Street View

Shopkeepers in Nice on the French Riviera gathered on Monday afternoon, to show their solidarity with a jeweller who has been charged with murder after shooting dead a teenage thief.

The shopkeepers say they are fed up with burglaries and attacks.

The demonstration of support for 67-year-old Stephan Turk has been organised by the professional body representing jewellers on the Côte d’Azur, where over the last few years there has been a rise in burglaries and break-ins.

Shopkeepers closed their shops for 15 minutes between 14.00 and 15.00 this afternoon to show their support for Turk.

Meanwhile, 1.5 million people have “liked” a Facebook page entitled “Support for the Jeweller of Nice”, though some are suggesting that “likes” might have been sold.

An electronic petition which was launched on Wednesday, the day of the hold up has now been signed by 58,000 people.

Jan Arin, president of the Association of Jewellers on the Côte d’Azur, noted that in 2012 there had been 400 attacks against jewellers.

However, he insisted that today’s demonstration is in no way political.

The Mayor of Nice, Christian Estrosi of the opposition UMP party has expressed his support for the marchers.

Marine Le Pen of the Front National and her father, Jean-Marie have also expressed their support for the man who has now become known as the “Jeweller of Nice”.

In an interview with French television channel TF1 last night, French president François Hollande said he understood many people’s anger over the murder charge but that justice must run its course.

Stephan Turk is now under electronic surveillance in his home, following his arrest.

If the jeweller can demonstrate that he acted in legitimate defence, he can avoid conviction.

But the prosecutor who recommended the murder charge appears to think Turk was in no immediate danger when he fired an unlicensed semi-automatic pistol as the youth and an accomplice were fleeing on a scooter with the gems they had stolen.

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