World French protesters demand trial for Jewish woman's killer
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PARIS (AP) — Protesters in Paris and other French cities on Sunday denounced a ruling by France’s highest court that the killer of Jewish woman Sarah Halimi was not criminally responsible and therefore could not go on trial.
Thousands of people filled Trocadero Plaza in Paris, in front of the Eiffel Tower, answering a call by Jewish associations and groups fighting antisemitism who say that justice has not been done. Other protests took place in Marseille, Lyon, Strasbourg, Bordeaux and elsewhere.
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The announcement that the killer would not be sent to trial sparked outrage among the French and international Jewish community.
Halimi, a 65-year-old Jewish woman, died in 2017 after being pushed out of the window of her Paris apartment by her neighbor, Kobili Traoré, who allegedly shouted “Allahu Akbar” (“God is great” in Arabic). Traoré admitted pushing her.
The ruling from the Court of Cassation, issued this month, said there was enough evidence to show the act had antisemitic motives. But the court said a person who committed a crime while in a “delirious state” cannot be sent to trial — even if that state was caused by the habitual use of illegal drugs. Traoré used to smoke heavy quantities of cannabis.
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“According to unanimous opinions of different psychiatry experts, that man was presenting at the time of the facts a severe delirious state,” the court said.
Under French law, people cannot be held criminally responsible for actions committed while fully losing their judgment or self-control due to a psychiatric disorder. Traoré has been in a psychiatric hospital since Halimi’s death.
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Robert Ejnes, the executive director of CRIF, French Jewish umbrella group, said he came to Trocadero Plaza to support Halimi’s relatives.
“I think they are like the French people – they’re angry and don’t understand at all,” he said.
“Here are people who trust France’s government, France’s justice system, and who are confronted with this totally unfair decision. The killer is recognized as a killer, is recognized as being antisemitic but he won’t be tried. It’s simply unacceptable and it’s very hard for these people to even grieve,” he said.
Ilaï Laymond, a 19-year-old law student protesting in Paris, said “as a Jew but also as a French citizen, this court ruling affects me profoundly because it’s inexplicable.”
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“With this decision ... we feel abandoned," he said.
French President Emmanuel Macron, meanwhile, called for a change in French law.
“Deciding to take narcotics and then ‘going mad’ should, not in my view, remove your criminal responsibility,” Macron told the Le Figaro newspaper. He also expressed his support for the victim's family.
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Judge Resigns in Protest After Court Won't Try Murder of Jewish Woman: 'Anti-Semitic Assassination'
France's highest court ruled earlier this month that a man who beat and murdered a Jewish woman in Paris could not be tried for murder because he had no "discernment or control" due to a large consumption of marijuana.Jack Broda, an 82-year-old associate judge at the judicial tribunal in the city of Nancy, told media outlets that he could no longer serve his post after France's highest court chose not to try a man responsible for murder.
AP Journalist Alexandre Turnbull contributed to the story.
How killer escaped trial for anti-Semitic murder .
The decision not to prosecute a Jewish woman's killer because of his drug use sparks a legal row in France.Sarah Halimi was a Jewish, 65-year-old, former kindergarten director, who in April 2017 was beaten, then thrown to her death from her flat in north-east Paris.