Hundreds of protesters demonstrated in Paris and across France after the alleged killer of a Jewish woman was declared unfit for trial because he was deemed to have suffered a psychotic episode caused by cannabis use.
Kobili Traoré is accused of beating 65-year-old Lucie Attal, better known as Sarah Halimi, and throwing her out of her Paris apartment window in 2017.
French courts have recognized the murder as an anti-Semitic crime, but declared that the 32-year-old Traoré, currently in a psychiatric hospital, could not be tried because he was in prison of a drug-induced “delusional attack” and was not in control Actions.
The decision made 12 days ago by France’s highest court, the cour de cassation, to uphold the ruling has sparked anger in the victim’s family and in the community at large.
Halimi’s family described the decision as an “injustice”; her sister Esther Lekover announced after the court’s decision that she would bring a separate legal case to Israel, where she lives.
Demonstrations were organized in Paris, Bordeaux, Marseille, Lyon, Strasbourg and Nice, as well as in Rome, Tel Aviv, London, Los Angeles, Miami and New York.
Frank Tapiro, a political communications expert who organized the Paris rally, said the protesters wanted justice for Sarah.
“We want a trial whatever the outcome. [Traoré] chose to smoke cannabis. The experts made their reports, but the judges are not obliged to accept them. This problem affects all French people, not just the Jewish community, ”Tapiro told BFM TV.
Traoré entered Halimi’s apartment at 4 a.m. on April 4, 2017 while he was sleeping. He allegedly beat her while crying “Allahu Akbar” and reciting Qur’anic verses, before throwing her off the balcony of her third-floor apartment in the 11th arrondissement of Paris, where she had lived for 30 years.
Neighbors told police they heard Traoré yelling, “I killed the sheitan ” – the Arabic word for “devil” – from Halimi’s balcony.
Later, Traoré told investigators that he knew Halimi was Jewish, but denied that his actions were anti-Semitic, saying that he had acted while suffering a psychotic episode triggered by cannabis.
It took 10 months and a protest by Jewish organizations for the French authorities to accept an element of anti-Semitism in the murder of the retired doctor and director of the nursery.
François Molins, attorney general for the cour de cassation, denied that the judicial system had been too lax in the Halimi case.
“Of course the legal system does not give anyone permission to kill,” Molins told Le Monde.
The cour de cassation confirmed the anti-Semitic nature of the crime, but confirmed earlier court decisions that it was impossible to try Traoré for murder because his excessive cannabis use meant that he was not in his right mind at the time. According to five of the seven psychiatric experts who examined him, Traoré was in the throes of a “delusional fit” when he killed Halimi.
Emmanuel Macron has called for a change in the law. On Sunday, Justice Minister Eric Dupond-Moretti issued a statement saying that new legislation to allow courts to consider whether a defendant had “voluntarily taken toxic substances … leading to a loss of responsibility” was would present to parliament at the end of May.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism