Rapper MHD and eight others tried for murder in brawl between two rival gangs

They face thirty years of criminal imprisonment

Rapper MHD and eight others tried for murder in brawl between two rival gangs

They face thirty years of criminal imprisonment. Rapper MHD and eight other men are on trial in Paris, from Monday, September 4, for a murder committed during a brawl between two rival gangs in the capital in 2018. The artist and four co-defendants will appear free, three others are still in pre-trial detention and the last, still at large, will be tried in absentia.

On the night of July 5 to 6, 2018, Loïc K., aged 23, died after being voluntarily run over by a Mercedes in the 10th arrondissement of Paris, then beaten up by a dozen men and lacerated with blows. knife. The car was found a day later, burnt out, in a parking lot.

The investigators quickly explored the trail of a settling of scores between young people from the city of Chaufourniers, nicknamed the "red city", and that of Grange-aux-Belles, located a stone's throw from each other, in the 10th and 19th arrondissements. Clashes between the two gangs are not new. More than a year earlier, a young man from Chaufourniers had already died in a fight.

A few hours before the scuffle that resulted in the death of Loïc K., a dozen people from Grange-aux-Belles had entered the home of an old man from the Chaufourniers district and threatened him with clubs, an act that had aroused a desire for reprisals from the rival city.

On the rise

Several witnesses implicate the rapper MHD, whose real name is Mohamed Sylla, resident of Chaufourniers. Pioneer of "afro-trap", a mixture of hip-hop and African music, the young man, then 23 years old, is on the rise. His first album sold more than 400,000 copies and he was noticed abroad by artists like Madonna and Drake.

Investigators establish that the burned Mercedes belonged to him and witnesses claim to have seen him on board. In addition, on several videos of the scene, one of the men, of African type, has his hair dyed blond and wears a tracksuit from the Puma brand. We see him drag Loïc K. away from the car and kick him in the head before leaving the scene. At that time, MHD had peroxided hair and was an ambassador for the Puma brand.

The latter has throughout the investigation denied the facts, arguing in particular that he very regularly lent his car to those around him, and that several people in the neighborhood wore the same hairstyle as him.

Contacted by Agence France-Presse, his lawyers did not respond.

Career held back

The affair, which caused the artist to spend a year and a half in pre-trial detention before being released in the summer of 2020 under judicial supervision, has significantly slowed down the career of the man whom the press has nicknamed the "Little Prince of "afro-trap". However, he released a new album in 2021, which went gold, and this summer a new single called Jungle.

Among the other accused, three, including the one who is on the run, are suspected of having stabbed the victim. Another will also be tried for the Mercedes fire.

"We are on a tragic and terrible cycle of neighborhood violence, in which we no longer know why one neighborhood is an enemy of another, but where we have no choice and we are forced to stand in solidarity with others," analyzes Me Guillaume Halbique, the rapper's lawyer. “To judge and understand well, you have to take the height and take into account these dynamics that are put in place from an early age,” he believes.

The trial is scheduled until September 22.