Zionist extremist hiding in Israel sentenced to prison in France

Grégory Chelli, the French Zionist extremist hiding from justice in Israel, has been sentenced to two and a half years in prison by a criminal court in Paris.

Using the alias Ulcan, Chelli has spent years terrorizing people with so-called swatting attacks – fake reports to police that have sometimes resulted in violent raids on their homes.

In one case that is still pending he is accused of causing a death.

Chelli, who was involved in the French branch of the Jewish Defense League extremist group, has typically targeted critics of Israel or those who have reported on his actions.

The mini-documentary above, published by The Electronic Intifada last year, provides an overview of who Chelli is and what he has done.

On 11 January, Chelli was convicted in absentia on 14 charges in four separate cases involving malicious calls, death threats and false reports to police between 2014 and 2016.

He was also ordered to pay more than $20,000 in damages to victims and more than $10,000 in court costs.

The court also issued a warrant for the arrest of the 39-year-old, who for years has been living a life of leisure in a luxury apartment overlooking the Mediterranean in the Israeli town of Ashdod.

“The incarnation of a coward”

The crimes for which Chelli was convicted this week include a 2014 call to police in Lille, impersonating the husband of the northern French city’s mayor Martine Aubry. Chelli claimed that the mayor’s husband had murdered her.

The crime was reportedly in retaliation for Aubry delaying a plan to twin Lille with a town in Israel.

Another of his targets was Olivia Zémor, head of the activist group EuroPalestine. Chelli was convicted of falsely reporting that her husband had killed her.

Zémor testified at the trial hearings in December that Chelli had repeatedly harassed the couple.

The Paris criminal court imposed a harsher sentence than the two years of imprisonment that prosecutors had requested.

Prosecutors accused Chelli of “extremely violent behavior.” The man who presented himself as a “Zionist activist” and a “vigilante,” was in reality “the incarnation of a coward,” according to prosecutors.

Gilles-William Goldnadel, Chelli’s lawyer and a far-right pro-Israel and anti-Muslim activist in his own right, said he would appeal.

There has been no word from Chelli himself. He has often used social media to mock his victims and accusers, but his Instagram account is currently private.

“Earthquake”

The 11 January conviction does not however include what is perhaps Chelli’s most notorious action, the 2014 targeting of the family of journalist Benoit Le Corre.

Chelli made a call to police impersonating Benoit’s father Thierry Le Corre, claiming to have killed his wife and baby and threatening to go on a shooting rampage.

This prompted a police raid on the Le Corre family home. The stress from this, on top of Chelli’s previous intense harassment and threats towards the family, prosecutors say, precipitated a heart attack and coma that led to the 56-year-old Thierry’s death.

Chelli’s targeting of the Le Corre family was in retaliation for Benoit’s reporting on the hacker’s attacks on Palestine solidarity activists.

France is still seeking Chelli’s extradition from Israel in the Le Corre case for willful violence resulting in death – a charge equivalent to manslaughter that can carry 15 years in prison.

But as they continue to seek justice for Thierry, Benoit Le Corre and his family are taking solace in Chelli’s conviction for other crimes.

On Wednesday, Benoit Le Corre posted a photo on Instagram of his father’s grave. In a comment, Le Corre welcomed the judgment against Chelli and spoke frankly about the pain he and his family have suffered.

“I felt my father’s death like an earthquake,” Le Corre wrote. “The ground feels a little more solid today.”

Le Corre noted that he has largely remained silent “for fear of reprisals targeting my loved ones” – evidence of the long-lasting terror Chelli inflicted.

A year ago, the case against Chelli over Thierry Le Corre’s death was sent back to a lower court to correct a technical error. That has slowed, but not stopped, the search for justice.

Antoine Comte, the Le Corre family’s lawyer, told The Electronic Intifada at the time that his clients were determined to pursue the case.

“Chelli, either in absentia or in France, should face trial in front of a criminal court because what he has done is a crime and it’s a disgusting crime,” Comte said.

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May we expect responses from Gilad Erdan, Danny Danon and the rest of the baying pack, denouncing the French court as motivated by intense antisemitism? Let them explain how Israel shelters Grégory Chelli from the racist accusations of his victims, and remind us that the crimes this noble soul reports to police, though technically imaginary, represent the true nature of those who question Israel's right to grind people into the dust.

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