Two prank calls and a funeral


(JTA) — From a medical perspective, the father of French journalist Benoit Le Corre died of natural causes.

He drew his last breath on Tuesday after several weeks in a coma following a massive stroke he suffered in August. Doctors had warned him that he was at risk of suffering such a fate.

Yet some blame his death at least in part on the actions of a French-Israeli cyber activist named Gregory Chelli who had allegedly targeted the deceased in two cruel prank calls, supposedly as payback of his son’s critical coverage of Chelli’s attacks on pro-Palestinian websites.

The first call by Chelli to Benoit le Corre’s parents happened on July 31, according to Le Parisien, which identified Chelli as 31-year-old resident of Ashdod who was born in Paris and used the non de guerre Ulcan. He impersonated a policeman and informed the journalist’s parents that their son had died in a car accident, the paper reported.

The second call attributed to Chelli came two days later in the dead of night to the police station of the Paris suburb of Dammarie-les-Lys, where the journalist’s parents live. This time, he allegedly identified himself to police as Benoit Le Corre’s father and confessed to having just killed his wife and son. A dispatch of several armed police officers showed up at the couple’s doorstep at 4 a.m. in search of the nonexistent bodies.

He had a stroke five days later.

Interviewed last month about these actions by the France 2 television channel, Chelli said he had no regrets over any of his actions, though he did not admit to doing any such action in particular.

In reporting Tuesday on the death of Benoit le Corre’s father, the editor at the highbrow news site Rue 89 recalled that the deceased’s family had a history of strokes and that the man’s “professional hyperactivity” placed him at an even higher risk group, according to doctors.

“But it is difficult not to tie it to the stress he endured in the days before the stroke,” added Pierre Haski, cofounder of the Rue 89 website.

Haski also wrote that several police complaints have been lodged against Chelli for aggravated harassment and giving police a false report, among other charges. But he is not being interrogated because he is not currently in France, and because “of a lack of action, it seems, by Israeli authorities,” Haski added.

As for Chelli, he doesn’t appear to too torn up about the affair. On Wednesday, he called up Benoit le Corre to express his condolences.

During the same conversation, he also accused the journalist of lying and challenged him to a televised boxing match “so we can make some cash from this.”

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