EJC President condemns “massive failure of justice” in Sarah Halimi case

EJC President Dr. Moshe Kantor has sharply criticised a judgment by the French Cour de Cassation, the country’s highest court, in the murder case of Sarah Halimi, a 65-year-old Jewish physician and schoolteacher.

The Court ruled that Kobili Traoré, who on 4 April 2017 broke into Ms. Halimi’s apartment in Paris, beat her, tortured her and threw her out of her window into her death, could not be held criminally responsible.

In the Court’s view, Mr. Traoré had found himself in the middle of a “sharp delusional puff” triggered by the regular consumption of cannabis, following which there was “no doubt that he could no longer be held to be in control of his actions.”

“This is a massive failure of the French justice system and sets a very dangerous precedent for the rule of law and for the whole society, with potential negative consequences reverberating across Europe,” Dr. Kantor said.

“Not only will a dangerous recidivist criminal be soon out in the streets, by declaring the illegal use of drugs an exonerating factor in a violent hate crime, the court has effectively granted a get-out-of-jail free card to all potential perpetrators,” he stated.

After taking Sarah Halimi’s life, Kobili Traoré was seen by witnesses shouting: “Allahu Akbar, I killed the demon!” and stated that he had felt “oppressed” by the sight of a Torah in his victim’s home.

“While the Court eventually established the perpetrator’s indisputable antisemitic motivation, it showed a staggering lack of courage and insight in failing to regard this as the essential element of the case, as opposed to his use of cannabis,” Dr. Kantor added.

“In the words of Francis Kalifat, the President of the Representative Council of French Jewish Institutions (CRIF) ‘the court has deprived Sarah Halimi’s family of the closure they deserve and deprived the people of France of an essential test case in the fight against antisemitism.’”

“We join the French Jewish community and President Emmanuel Macron and call on the French National Assembly to amend the relevant legal provisions regarding criminal responsibility and prevent this unfair denial of justice from occurring to anyone else,” Dr. Kantor continued.

“Europe’s Jewish communities stand in solidarity with the Halimi family in the face of this prolonged and painful ordeal, Dr. Kantor concluded. “The family’s lawyers have said that they will refer the matter to the European Court of Human Rights, where they will at last hopefully find justice.”

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