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May 24, 2019 3:54 pm

Murderer of Sarah Halimi Will Avoid Criminal Trial, French Jewish Defense Group Says

avatar by Ben Cohen

Murdered French Jewish pensioner Sarah Halimi. Photo: Halimi family.

A leading French Jewish organization said on Friday that it had “learned with consternation” that the man accused of murdering Jewish pensioner Sarah Halimi in April 2017 will not face a criminal trial.

In a statement carried by the Jewish publication Alliance, the BNVCA  —  a Paris-based group that works with victims of antisemitic attacks — said that the investigating magistrate in the Halimi case had concluded that the murderer, Kobili Traore, was heavily intoxicated on marijuana when he committed the killing, and mentally unfit to stand trial.

The BNVCA did not disclose its source for this information, which was unreported in the French media on Friday.

Referring to the numerous political and legal obstacles encountered by the Halimi family in their fight for justice over two years, the BNVCA said that it had “sensed from the beginning of the investigation that this crime would go unpunished.”

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Halimi, 65-years-old at the time of her death, was subjected to a frenzied beating and then hurled from a third-floor window in the early hours of Apr. 4, 2017, by Traore, a neighbor in the same public housing project in eastern Paris who broke into her apartment.

Terrified neighbors who alerted police after hearing her cries for help reported that Traore had shouted the words, “Allahu Akhbar,” and, “Shaitan” (Arabic for “Satan”), during Halimi’s ordeal.

Police investigations later revealed that Halimi had told relatives that she was scared of Traore, who insulted her visiting daughter as a “dirty Jewess” a few weeks before the murder.

Traore’s lawyers, however, have insisted throughout that their client was too intoxicated from his ingestion of cannabis to be held responsible for his actions. On March 20, a third psychiatric report commissioned by the investigating judge in the Halimi case concurred with this assessment, arguing that Traore’s consumption of cannabis had eliminated his “discernment” (a clinical term for “judgment”).

In its statement, the BNVCA pointed out the “paradox that a driver under the influence of alcohol has his sentence heavily aggravated, and a drug user is exonerated.”

The group added that it was now “very pessimistic about the real possibilities of eradicating antisemitism when the culprits are neither tried nor sentenced.”

It concluded: “We fear that this decision will encourage other so-called mentally ill people to commit other anti-Jewish crimes.”

The BNVCA’s announcement came two weeks after magistrate Anne Ihuellou announced the end of her investigations into the murder, setting off concerned speculation among observers of the Halimi case that Traore would escape a criminal trial.

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