Monday, 10 Aug 2020 - 20 of Av, 5780

France’s Chief Rabbi calls on Justice Minister for a trial of Sarah Halimi’s killer

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“Should we deduce from this decision that every drug addict would have a license to kill the Jews?,” asked Rabbi Korsia in his letter.

PARIS—The Chief Rabbi of France Haïm Korsia has denounced the ‘’tragic’’ French court decision not to try the killer of Sarah Halimi on the grounds of criminal irresponsibility caused by his heavy cannabis intake. He called the decision a ‘’grave breach of trust in the country’s judicial system, in an open letter to French Justice Minister Nicole Belloubet pubished in daily newspaper Le Figaro.

The 65-year-old Jewish woman was brutally beaten and thrown out of the window of her apartment in Paris in April 2017 by Kobili Traore. The man, who lived in the same public housing project in eastern Paris as Halimi, broke into her apartment and 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.

Prosecutors based their long-awaited decision on Dec. 19 on two psychiatric assessments of Traore that claimed his intake of cannabis had resulted in acute delirium, and that therefore he could not be held responsible for murdering Halimi — a crime he admitted to during a preliminary hearing in November.

The court decision has provoked anger in the Jewish community and beyond.

“Should we deduce from this decision that every drug addict would have a license to kill the Jews?,” asked Rabbi Korsia in his letter.

“Regarding the tragic and ubiquitous decision not to judge the alleged assassin of Sarah Attal-Halimi, under the pretext of a punctual ‘delirious whiff’, there is a serious breach of confidence and I cannot believe that this choice is a reflection of what the French think,’’ he said.

“To deprive the family of Mrs. Halimi and society as a whole, of a trial, […] is to dispossess the citizens of one of the most precious rights which is in a democracy: that to appeal to justice to shed light on such a surge of violence and hatred, “he continued.

The chief rabbi also fears that this decision could set a precedent.

“Because beyond this heinous crime, we see here and there emerging other dangers, among which that of the non-consideration of anti-Semitism by the justice, while I know the efforts of training of the magistrates that you deploy in the matter, “he said.

Korsia’s letter urged the French judiciary to “heal the wounds” caused by the decision by “establishing the guilt of a suspect and by imposing a sentence commensurate with the seriousness of the acts committed.”

A protest rally against the court decision is scheduled in Paris on Saturday evening on the occasion of the lighting of the seventh Chanukah candle.



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