PARIS (EJP)---French Jewish groups called for a demonstration Monday evening in front of the Ministry of Justice in Paris to demand a retrial for members of a gang called the "Barbarians" who tortured a Jewish young man to death in 2006, charging that sentences for key murder accomplices of the gang were much too light.
A Paris court late on Friday sentenced gang leader Youssouf Fofana to life in prison with a mandatory 22 years for the anti-Semitic kidnapping and murder of 23-year-old Ilan Halimi, which shocked France with its brutality.
But the lower sentences handed to 26 accomplices, including nine years for Emma, a young woman who lured Halimi into the gang's trap, and 15 and 18 years for two men cast as his "jailers", drew an angry response from the Jewish community.
France's National Bureau of Vigilance Against Anti-Semitism (BNVCA), a group monitoring anti-Semitic acts in the country, demanded a retrial, calling for a demonstration Monday evening outside the offices of Justice Minister Michele Alliot-Marie on Place Vendome in central Paris.
"We are asking the justice minister to use her authority to ask the state prosecutor to appeal this unbearable verdict," the BNCVA said in a statement, denouncing the court ruling as "lenient" and "incomplete".
|Ruth Halimi, Ilan's mother, said on Sunday: 'Ilan's executioners did a terrible thing and my feeling is that the punishment does not reflect that." "They killed Ilan because he was a Jew." "Anti-Semitism is no ordinary crime," she added, calling for Fofana's chief accomplices to be given "exemplary" sentences.
Halimi's family had already called for a retrial at the close of the two-and-a-half-month trial, which was held under a media blackout because two defendants were minors at the time of the killing.
The verdict was handed down late on Friday – as Shabbat already started - by nine judges and a nine-member jury following more than two days of deliberations.
Ilan Halimi man was lured by the 17-year-old girl from the Paris mobile phone store where he worked to a housing estate basement in Bagneux, a Paris suburb, where he was attacked and subdued with ether.
The lower sentences handed to Fofana's 26 accomplices, including nine years for Emma (picture), a young woman of Iranian origin who lured Ilan Halimi into the gang's trap, and 15 and 18 years for two men cast as his "jailers", drew an angry response from the Jewish community.
Held prisoner for ransom, he was subjected to torture for 24 days before he was found naked and handcuffed to a tree near a railway track on February 13, 2006. He died on the way to hospital.
Fofana, who recruited followers among youths from Paris's bleak immigrant suburbs, was accused of stabbing Halimi and doused his body with rubbing alcohol before setting him alight.
The 28-year-old son of Ivorian immigrants, Fofana raised his fist in court at the start of the trial and proclaimed "Allah will conquer!," stating his name as "African Barbarian Armed Revolt Salafist".
The jail terms against his accomplices -- from six months suspended to 18 years -- were mostly lower than sought by the prosecution.
State prosecutor Philippe Bilger praised the final verdict as "balanced", saying it reflected the gravity of their crimes but also each person's true level of involvement.
But the Union of Jewish Students in France, the UEJF, said it was "shocked" by the verdict, and that the media blackout -- which is standard in French cases involving minors -- had prevented a proper public debate.
"Everything was done to avoid drawing the lessons from this anti-Semitic murder case," UEJF said in a statement.
The umbrella group of French Jewish organizations, the CRIF, also signalled after Shabbat prayers that it was unhappy with the verdict, and would favour a new
trial, held this time in full public view.
"The CRIF is worried, as is the Jewish community of France," it said, adding that it hoped "if there is an appeal, that the legislation will enable the new trial to be held in public".
The Paris state prosecutor's office is expected to say by July 20 whether it will order a new trial.