French rapper MHD to stand trial over youth's murder: Judicial source

A 2017 photo shows French band MHD performing at the "Vieilles Charrues" music festival.
A 2017 photo shows French band MHD performing at the "Vieilles Charrues" music festival.PHOTO: AFP

PARIS (AFP) - The popular French rapper MHD has been ordered to stand trial over the beating and death of a 23-year-old man in Paris during a suspected settling of scores between rival gangs three years ago, a judicial source told AFP on Friday (Nov 12).

The 27-year-old, who rose to fame with a distinctive blend of west African sounds with US-style hip-hop, was charged with homicide in January 2019 and imprisoned.

He has denied taking part in the assault, which saw the victim rammed by a black Mercedes and then beaten up and stabbed by around a dozen people in a gritty part of the capital's 10th arrondissement.

But a local resident filmed the incident from his window, and the Mercedes was quickly identified as belonging to MHD, whose real name is Mohamed Sylla.

Other witnesses identified the rapper by his haircut or a Puma sweatshirt, for which he was a brand ambassador, according to investigative reports seen by AFP.

He was released in the summer of 2020 after a year-and-a-half in custody as the investigations continued, and has since released a new album of his "afro-tap" music.

Seven other people will also stand trial over the killing.

The football-mad performer, who was born in France to Guinean and Senegalese parents, is best known for "Afro Trap Part 3 (Champions League)", a song in praise of the Paris Saint-Germain football club.