Saturday, 8 May 2021 - 26 of Iyyar, 5781

Denial of justice in France led lawyers of Sarah Halimi’s family to file a complaint in Israel, call for massive rally in Paris

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Francis Szpiner and Gilles-William Goldnadel, the lawyers of Sarah Halimi’s family, announced they wanted to “file a complaint against Kobili Traoré in the name of Esther Lekover, the victim’s sister,” since the Israeli criminal law can be applied to anti-Semitic crimes committed abroad and denounced by an Israeli citizen, which is the case of their client.

French Jewish leaders have called for a massive public rally to show solidarity with the family of Sarah Halimi in Paris on Sunday at 2:00 pm local time, at the Parvis des Droits de l’Homme, Place du Trocadéro.

The sister of Sarah Halimi, a 65-year-old Jewish woman who was killed in Paris in 2017 by her Muslim neighbor, intends to file a complaint in Israel in an attempt to obtain a trial against the murderer who has been judged to be not criminally responsible by the French courts.

Francis Szpiner and Gilles-William Goldnadel, the lawyers of Sarah Halimi’s family,  announced on Wednesday that they wanted to “file a complaint against Kobili Traoré in the name of Esther Lekover, the victim’s sister,” since the Israeli criminal law can be applied to anti-Semitic crimes committed abroad and denounced by an Israeli citizen, which is the case of their client.

France, however, does not extradite its nationals.

“Mr. Goldnadel and Mr. Szpiner deplore being forced to initiate this procedure, but they cannot accept a denial of justice that offends reason and fairness well beyond the Jewish community of France,” the two lawyers said in a statement.

On April 4, 2017, 27-year-old Kobili Traoré burst into the home of Sarah Halimi. To cries of “Allah Akbar”, the Muslim man beat her while reciting verses of the Koran before throwing her over the balcony of the flat in Belleville, in eastern Paris.

The announcement by the two lawyers to seek justice in Israel came after the ruling of the Court of Cassation of April 14, which confirmed the anti-Semitic nature of the crime but the impossibility of bringing the murderer to justice, upholding a decision by the Paris Court of Appeal’s investigation chamber which concluded that Kobili Traoré was not criminally responsible. In the light of the psychiatric expertise, the judges applied Article 122-1 of the Penal Code, considering that the author, caught in an “acute delirium”, was suffering from a “psychic or neuropsychic disorder that has abolished his discernment” at the time of the facts. The Court ordered Traoré’s  hospitalization with security measures for 20 years.

For Francis Szpiner, the judicial debate has been “skirted”.

This decision caused a very strong emotion in the Jewish community and beyond, accompanied by a lively debate on the criminal responsibility of people suffering from psychiatric disorders against the background of drug use.

The Supreme Court decision caused a very strong emotion in the Jewish community and beyond, accompanied by a lively debate on the criminal responsibility of people suffering from psychiatric disorders against the background of drug use.

The cases in which the “abolition of discernment” (the old “state of insanity”) is recognised because of the self-administration of a narcotic product are rare in jurisprudence. Most of the time, the judge refuses to see intoxication and its effects as a cause of irresponsibility or mitigation of responsibility.

‘’We are not dealing with a mentally ill person who indiscriminately kills a passer-by in the street under the effect of a delusional fit,’’ said Szpiner. He added: ‘’Why didn’t Traoré kill the people he had kidnapped before throwing Mme Halimi out of the window? How could he have climbed over her balcony before attacking her as he did? Why did he declare that he had “killed the devil” and then shouted “Allah akbar! “if he was not aware that he was committing an antisemitic crime, as he claims? Why did he rebel during his arrest, if he had lost all discernment? And how could he claim that Ms Halimi had committed suicide, if not to escape a responsibility of which he was fully aware?.’’

Emmanuel Macron wants to change French law

French President Emanuel Macron has expressed his support for the Jewish community and its efforts to bring Halimi’s killer to trial. In an interview with daily Le Figaro, he said he would seek a change in  the laws to prevent such a case from happening again.

He stressed that taking drugs and “going crazy” should not take away criminal responsibility.

“It’s not for me to comment on a court decision, but I would like to express to the family, to the relatives of the victim, and to all our Jewish citizens who were waiting for a trial, my warm support and the Republic’s determination to protect them,” the president said.

Macron said that France “does not judge citizens who are sick, we treat them… But deciding to take drugs and then ‘going crazy’ should not, in my opinion, take away your criminal responsibility.”

He said that he would ask the Justice Minister to present a change in the law ‘’as soon as possible.”

Not just a random drug-fueled murder

In an editorial, The Jerusalem Post writes: ‘’The fact that the man shouted religious slogans during the killing provides evidence that this was not just a random drug-fueled murder. Throughout history Jews have been murdered for blood libels, hacked to death by Crusaders, and stuffed into gas chambers and crematoriums. In recent years, France’s Jews have often been targeted by Islamist extremists. For instance, in 2012 a Jewish school in Toulouse was targeted by a murderer who filmed the killing of a teacher and children. Mohammed Merah, the murderer, shouted “Allahu akhbar” while killing others during his campaign of terror.’’

‘’Jewish blood is often cheap in Europe, and it has been that way for 2,000 years, which is one of the reasons we have Israel, a country where elderly Jewish women can be sure that they have the highest protections to live securely, as much as the state can provide them.’’

According to a report released earlier this month by the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, 95 percent of Jews in France said anti-Semitism is a big problem, and that the true numbers of such attacks may not be known because people are hesitant to report them, in part because they don’t believe that police will act effectively.

French Jewish leaders have called for a massive public rally to show solidarity with the famliy of Sarah Halimi in Paris on Sunday at 2:00 pm local time, at the Parvis des Droits de l’Homme, Place du Trocadéro.

A demonstration is also scheduled to take place in front of the French embassy in London.

 

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