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March 13, 2020 12:04 pm

Quest for Justice for Murdered Jewish Woman Sarah Halimi Also Fight for Rule of Law, France’s Chief Rabbi Says

avatar by Ben Cohen

France’s Chief Rabbi Haim Korsia (r) with French PM Edouard Philippe at pre-Rosh Hashanah service at the Buffault Synagogue in Paris in 2018. Photo: Reuters / Christophe Archambault.

France’s chief rabbi on Friday reiterated the profound discomfort within the Jewish community over the recent decision by a Paris court to excuse the alleged antisemitic murderer of a Jewish woman from trial on the grounds of mental imbalance supposedly caused by his marijuana habit.

“In a state governed by the rule of law, it is justice that determines the rules,” Rabbi Haim Korsia told the magazine Le Point during an extensive interview. “Hence my fight on behalf of Sarah Halimi: Beaten, murdered and thrown from the window of her home in the middle of Paris by an individual who was astonishingly — and this word is weak — recognized as not responsible for the act.”

The December 2019 decision by the Court of Appeal in Paris meant that Kobili Traore — accused of brutally killing his neighbor, 65-year-old Sarah Halimi, while shouting religious slogans in the early hours of April 4, 2017 — would not have to account before the law for a crime that he both admitted to and apologized for in a rare court appearance at the end of November.

The decision to excuse the 29-year-old Traore from trial — because his marijuana consumption was said to have fatally impaired his consciousness — sparked dismay and fury among French Jews, whose leaders expressed concern that the court was setting a precedent to allow deadly antisemitic violence to go unpunished.

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A final decision on whether Traore will face trial is expected from France’s highest court later this year, which is currently considering an appeal from Halimi’s family.

Korsia — who is currently promoting his newly-published book “Réinventer les aurores,” a philosophical and theological reflection on the current state of France — also underlined the role of digital communications in spreading antisemitic propaganda.

“It is a nauseating phenomenon, disseminated among other ways by social networks who protect the anonymity of the guilty,” Korsia told the magazine Paris Match.

“I don’t understand why we do not sanction the sites that host them,” he added.

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