French Senator Takes Aim at Legal Protection for ‘Murderous Predators’ as Anger Over Sarah Halimi Trial Decision Persists
A prominent French senator announced her intention this week to fundamentally revise her country’s laws on criminal responsibility, following last month’s decision by prosecutors in Paris to excuse from trial Kobili Traore — the accused antisemitic murderer of Sarah Halimi, a 65-year-old Jewish woman — on the grounds of temporary insanity caused by his intake of cannabis.
Nathalie Goulet — who represents the centrist UDI Party in the French Senate — told the newspaper Le Figaro on Thursday that her primary goal was to defend the victims of such attacks.
“The bill I am tabling is not intended to deny dementia or irresponsibility,” Goulet said. “It aims to clarify the law, and above all to strengthen the rights of the victims of these murderous predators who use our legislation to evade their responsibility.”
Under Goulet’s proposal, the French penal code would be revised to prevent pleas of temporary insanity by offenders who — as was the case with Kobili Traore on the night of Halimi’s murder — voluntarily consumed drugs or alcohol prior to committing their crimes.
“Taking drugs should not give safe conduct to [those charged with] antisemitic murders and other proven crimes,” Goulet said.
Traore — a resident of the same public housing project in eastern Paris as Halimi, a child development expert who lived alone — broke into her apartment during the early morning hours of April 4, 2017.
Terrified neighbors who alerted police after hearing Halimi’s cries for help reported that Traore had shouted the words “Allahu akhbar” and “Shaitan” (Arabic for “Satan”) as he rained kicks and punches on his victim, before picking up her bruised body and throwing her out of the window.
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 killing.
Traore’s lawyers, however, have insisted throughout the initial legal process that their client was too intoxicated from his ingestion of cannabis to be held responsible for his actions. In March of this year, 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”).
Goulet argued that France was in danger of “losing the battle against jihadism, by [applying psychiatric diagnosis to] the terrorists in order to remove their culpability.”
As well as Traore, the Senator said there was the more recent case of an alleged Islamist who stabbed a man to death in a knife attack in Paris on Jan. 6. Officers who arrested the man said that he had a history of mental illness and had apparently run out of his prescription medication at the time of the attack.
Meanwhile, anger over the decision in the Halimi case last month continued to ripple through the French Parliament this week.
In a question to French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe on Wednesday, Roger Karoutchi — a senator for the center-right LR Party — noted that Halimi had been killed by “a clearly antisemitic murderer, and yet there will be no trial.”
“Beyond the codes, beyond the rules, prime minister, do you find that fair?” Karoutchi asked.