Thousands of French Jews and supporters rallied in Paris calling for justice for murdered Jewish woman Sarah Halimi, after a court of appeal ruled that her attacker was “not criminally responsible” for his actions.
Halimi, 65, was brutally beaten and thrown out of the window of her apartment in Paris on April 4, 2017 by Kobili Traoré who lived in the same building as Halimi.
The court’s decision has sparked anger in the Jewish and wider French community, as many believe her killing to be an antisemitic act. In Paris on Sunday they gathered to demonstrate against the court ruling at the Place de la Republique and ending at Halimi’s former home in Belleville in the city’s 11th arrondissement.
“My sister was murdered,” said William Attal, one of the victim’s brothers, speaking with a microphone above the crowd.
On the day of Halimi’s killing, witnesses reported hearing Traoré shout “I killed the shaitan,” an Arabic word that means “demon”, after he threw her body onto the building’s courtyard.
According to the Guardian newspaper, Traoré told a judge that antisemitism did not compel him to attack Halimi and that he was not in his right mind, but he also said that seeing a Jewish candelabra and prayer book in the 65-year-old woman’s apartment intensified his mental state.
Georges Halimi, another of the victim’s brothers, told FRANCE 24 in 2017 that his sister and her daughter were often insulted in their building, and that his sister’s neighbour and his family would spit on the ground when she passed by.T
The Paris Court of Appeal did acknowledge the antisemitic nature of Traoré’s fatal attack in its ruling on December 19, when it also concluded that Traoré was “criminally irresponsible”.
In a letter to the Procurer General of Paris two days after the Appeal Court’s ruling, Francis Kalifat, the president of the Representative Council of Jewish Institutions in France (CRIF), asked, “Is there only law and no justice in our country?”
Halimi’s lawyers are appealing the decision to the French Court of Cassation.