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June 27, 2019 11:54 am

Criminal Trial of Antisemitic Killer of Sarah Halimi Still Hanging in Balance, French Lawyer Says

avatar by Ben Cohen

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

The lawyer for the family of Sarah Halimi — the 65-year-old French Jewish widow brutally murdered in her Paris apartment in April 2017 by an intruder shouting antisemitic slogans — expressed cautious optimism on Thursday that her accused killer, Kobili Traore, would go on trial for his crime, but stressed that there was no possibility of knowing that for sure.

For several months, the family’s legal team and the wider Jewish community have expressed grave concern that Traore, who was 27 at the time of the murder, would escape a criminal trial on mental health reasons. But in an interview with the French Jewish newspaper Actualité Juive published on Wednesday, lawyer Gilles-William Goldnadel said that the Paris prosecutor’s office had “never really left the correct path.”

“It did not take much effort to convince him that Traoré acted on antisemitic grounds,” Goldnadel said.

Despite having a previous criminal record and no documented episodes of mental illness, two of the three psychiatric reports on Traore commissioned by the Paris investigative magistrate concluded that he could not be held criminally responsible for Halimi’s death, on the grounds of impaired judgement caused by his chronic consumption of marijuana.

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Still, Goldnadel emphasized that the investigating magistrate in the Halimi case may yet decide against a trial — in which event, the family would launch an appeal.

“Anything can happen, including the worst, which would be that Traoré is judged to have no criminal responsibility,” Goldnadel said.

Goldnadel added that he could foresee a situation where Traore would be sent to a psychiatric hospital where staff would have the discretion to eventually release him back into society.

“That wouldn’t surprise me at all,” Goldnadel remarked. “And maybe he will commit a similar act after that.”

Halimi, who lived by herself, was subjected to a frenzied beating and then hurled to her death 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.

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