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Uproar As French Jeweler Kills Thief, Is Charged

But France has seen a spate of high-profile jewelry thefts lately, and Castellacci said the mobilization in support of the jeweler is a reflection of unease with increasing violence.

The robbery was carried out with a shotgun, he said. It wasn't clear whether Asli and the accomplice both had firearms.

A single gunman in the southern city of Cannes made off with a $136 million cache this summer. That was followed by another armed robbery days later in the same city. In Paris' wealthy Place Vendome on Sept. 9, thieves drove a sport utility vehicle into a jewelry store, grabbed 2 million euros ($2.7 million) worth of loot, then set the vehicle on fire and escaped.

"The number of jewelry store robberies has been climbing for years. There's one robbery a day in France," Christine Boquet, president of the union of jewelers and watchmakers, told the Nice Matin. "This creates enormous stress for the merchants. They live with this fear and insecurity every day."

Yet the sister of the 19-year-old who was killed says Turk shot him in the back and deserves prison.

"He shot a kid in the back. He's a traitor, he's a coward," said Alexandra Asli, his older sister.

Asli, who was shot dead in the street outside the jewelry store, had been convicted 14 times in juvenile court, according to Eric Bedos, the Nice prosecutor.

Bedos defended his decision to bring preliminary charges Friday against Turk, whose gun he said was not legal. The voluntary homicide charge is similar to a second-degree murder charge or voluntary manslaughter.

"After he was threatened, the jeweler grabbed his firearm, moved toward the metal shutters, crouched and fired three times. He said he fired twice to immobilize the scooter and a third time he fired because he said he felt threatened," Bedos told the media.

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