|Born||11 October 1982|
|Died||13 February 2006
|Cause of death||Murdered by torture|
Ilan Halimi (Hebrew: אילן חלימי) was a young French Jewish man  kidnapped on 21 January 2006 by a group called "the Gang of Barbarians" (Gang des Barbares) and subsequently tortured, over a period of three weeks, resulting in his death. The murder was motivated by antisemitism and money, and heightened fears of resurgent antisemitism in France.
A total of 27 people were accused as implicated in the crime and were tried for kidnapping and murder in 2009. Gang leader Youssouf Fofana (born 1980 in Paris to immigrants from Côte d'Ivoire) was convicted and sentenced to life in prison with no possibility of parole for 22 years. Others received shorter prison sentences, some suspended, and three were acquitted. While Fofana's life sentence is definite, 14 of the 27 verdicts were appealed. The convictions were upheld on appeal in December 2010.
Timeline of the crime 
According to press reports based on information from French criminal investigation authorities, as of 25 February 2006 the crime is believed to have happened as follows:
- On 20 January, Halimi was lured by an attractive seventeen-year-old girl named Yalda, of French-Iranian origin, to an apartment block in the Parisian banlieues.
- There Halimi was overwhelmed by a youth gang and kept prisoner for twenty-four days.
- Halimi was initially guarded by four teenagers who were promised €5,000. During the three-week period, his kidnappers, at least 19 of them, tortured him by beating him all over his body, especially his testicles, completely wrapping his head in duct tape, except for his mouth, so he could breathe and eat through a straw, stabbing him, burning his body and face with lighters and cigarettes, in order to extract a ransom of initially 450,000 Euros from his family.
- Halimi was found naked, handcuffed, and bound with nylon rope to a tree about 40 yards inside a woodlot from a railway outside Paris, on February 13. A list of cases of the 'bystander effect'[clarification needed] reported that more than 80% of his body had been burned with acid, as well as gasoline (possibly to destroy evidence of his captors' DNA), to the point that he was difficult to recognize. He had severe contusions, blood blisters, and hematomas covering most of his body, to the point that he was more blue than flesh-colored, multiple broken bones, one ear and one big toe missing, and his testicles looked like "blackened oranges." Halimi died en route to a hospital.
- In the subsequent days, French police arrested 21 persons in connection with the crime, including the woman used as bait. The leader of the gang, Youssouf Fofana, fled to his parents' homeland of Côte d'Ivoire, where he was arrested on 23 February. Fofana was extradited to France on 4 March 2006.
The kidnappers and their associates 
Implicated in the crime are the members of a youth gang calling themselves "les barbares" (the Barbarians). The people so far arrested are mostly unemployed children of immigrants from African countries. In total, 27 individuals were under investigation and were subsequently put on trial. Currently, 19 of those individuals have been convicted and imprisoned. These include:
- Youssouf Fofana
- Youssouf Fofana (25; b. 2 August 1980), the self-proclaimed "Brain of the Barbarians". He was born in Paris to immigrants from Côte d'Ivoire and served three to four years in prison for various crimes including armed robbery and resisting arrest. In an interview he denied killing Halimi, but showed no sign of remorse for his extreme cynicism.
- Christophe Martin-Vallet
Christophe M-V, aka "Moko", a 22-year-old Martinique French man, specializing in computers. He appears to have masterminded the kidnappings and to have been the lieutenant of Fofana. He was monitoring the honeypot activities of the girls.
- Sorour Arbabzadeh
- Sorour Arbabzadeh aka "Yalda" (or "Emma"), a seventeen-year-old French-Iranian girl who acted as a honeypot to lure Halimi into the gang's lair.
- Jean-Christophe Gavarin
- Jean-Christophe Gavarin, aka "Zigo", aka "JC" aged 17, one of the individuals who tortured Ilan.
- Gilles Serrurier
- "The concierge," Gilles Serrurier (39; b. 1967), of the banlieu to which Halimi was taken, who lent his attackers the apartment and cellar in which they tortured and killed him.
Assault on Mathieu Roumi 
On February 22, 2008, six members of the "Barbarians" assaulted 19-year-old Mathieu Roumi in the same Paris suburb of Bagneux where Halimi was killed. For two hours the attackers tortured the young man. One shoved cigarette butts into his mouth, another took issue with Roumi's Jewish origin (paternal), grabbed correction fluid and scrawled "dirty Jew" and an anti-gay insult on his forehead. When the issue of his sexual orientation arose, one of them placed a condom on the tip of a stick and shoved it in Roumi's mouth. The six men proceeded to scream at him and threaten that he would die the way Halimi did. 
The kidnapping seems to be motivated by a combination of anti-semitism and a desire for money.
Police have attributed to the banlieues' gang subculture a "poisonous mentality that designates Jews as enemies along with other 'outsiders,'" such as Americans, mainstream French, and Europeans in general. "If they could have gotten their hands on a (non-Jewish) French cop in the same way, they probably would have done the same thing," a retired police chief opined.
Attempted extortion 
The kidnappers originally thought Halimi was wealthy because he came from a Moroccan Jewish family, though he came from the same poor and working-class neighborhood on the outskirts of Paris as the kidnappers did.
- The kidnappers demanded ransom, initially EUR 450,000; this then dropped to EUR 5,000.
- The French police initially believed that anti-Semitism was not a factor in the crime.
- As the investigation progresses, this gang appears to have been implicated in at least 15 other cases of racketeering. Posing as members of the National Front for the Liberation of Corsica or member of the French division of the PFLP, they threatened several high-ranking CEOs including Jérôme Clément, président of the European TV operator Arte, Rony Brauman, former president and co-founder of Médecins Sans Frontières, and the CEO as well as another high-ranking member of a large company selling home appliances. They sent threatening pictures of an unknown man dressed as a middle-eastern Arab in front of a picture of Osama Bin Laden. In another case, the owner of a large grocery store was directed to pay 100,000 euros.
- According to then Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy, members of the gang confessed that they believed all Jews to be rich and it motivated them to target several Jews, culminating with Halimi. This starkly contrasts with the reality of the Halimi family's working-class circumstances; they and many other poor and working-class Jews inhabited the same lower-class banlieue as the attackers.
- The French prime minister, Dominique de Villepin declared that the "odious crime" was antisemitic, and that antisemitism is not acceptable in France.
Public reaction 
The case has found an enormous echo in the French media and in the French public. Six French associations called for a mass demonstration against racism and antisemitism in Paris on Sunday, 26 February. Between 33,000 (as estimated by police) and 80,000 to 200,000 (as estimated by the organizers) people participated in Paris, as well as thousands around the country. Also present were public figures such as Nicolas Sarkozy, Jean-Marie Lustiger and Lionel Jospin. Right-wing politician Philippe de Villiers was booed by far-left militants and had to leave under police guard.
Criticism of police response 
Ruth Halimi, Ilan's mother, subsequently co-authored a book with Emilie Freche entitled “24 Days” that was released in April 2009. In the book, Ruth claimed that French police never suspected her son's kidnappers would kill the 23-year-old after three weeks in captivity in 2006, partly because they would not face the anti-Semitic character of the crime, the French daily Le Figaro reported. In an interview with Le Figaro, Emilie Freche stated that “by denying the anti-Semitic character, [police] did not figure out the profile of the gang.” The book details how Ilan's parents were told to stay silent during the ordeal and were ordered not to seek aid in order to pay the ransom, nor show their son's photo to people who might have come forward with information about his whereabouts.
In an interview with Elle Magazine on March 27, 2009, Ruth wrote that “The police were completely off the mark. They thought they were dealing with classic bandits, but these people were beyond the norm.” Halimi stated that she wrote the book to “alert public opinion to the danger of anti-Semitism which has returned in other forms, so that a story like this can never happen again.”
International reaction 
The event caused an international outcry.
On May 9, the Helsinki Commission held a briefing titled "Tools for Combating Anti-Semitism: Police Training and Holocaust Education" chaired by Commission Co-Chairman Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.) who said: "His tragedy made brutally clear that Jews are still attacked because they are Jews, and that our work to eradicate all forms of anti-Semitism in all its ugly forms and manifestations is far from done."
Reburial in Israel 
It was timed to allow his first Yartzeit, on Tu Bishvat, to pass before the reburial. The date and time (11:30am) also marked "exactly one year after his burial in France according to the Jewish Calendar."
2009 trial 
The judge defended his exclusion of the public and the media by saying that two of the 27 suspects were juveniles at the time of the crime. French law does not require open trials for juveniles.
Incidents during the trial 
Fofana claimed in court that he had friends who would "take pictures to identify people." Francis Szpiner, lawyer for the Halimi family, believed that Fofana was alluding to the jurors, and was implying that he was going to put a price on their heads.
When the judge refused to quiet Fofana, the Halimi family and their lawyer (who previously said "It was the law of silence that killed Ilan Halimi and it has imposed itself again" regarding the decision to bar journalists from the trial) left the courtroom.
A report dated approximately halfway into the trial's projected 10 weeks was headlined "Court tosses defendant in Halimi trial after he hurls shoes" and it noted that "reports about the trial are communicated through intermediaries who have access to the trial." Other reports indicated that, as a result of this incident, the judge suspended the trial. Subsequent reports dated about 2 weeks later indicated that the prosecution's counsel, Philippe Bilger, recommended life in prison for ring-leader Youssouf Fofana, 20 years for Fofana's two closest associates, and 12 years for the woman who lured Halimi to his death.
Verdict and sentencing 
Sentences for the others varied, while verdicts for suspects who were minors at the time of the crime were not publicly disclosed. Samir Aït Abdelmalek, 30, and Jean-Christophe Soumbou, 23, the two main accomplices, were sentenced to 18 and 15 years.
Also sentenced to 15 years was a third defendant, who was a minor at the time of the kidnap/murder.
Sorour Arbabzadeh aka "Yalda" or "Emma", a then-17-year-old French-Iranian girl who acted as a honeypot to lure Halimi into the gang's lair, was sentenced to 9 years.
2010 retrial 
The sentences issued after the first trial were criticized as too lenient, and the attorney general, upon the instigation of Minister of Justice Michèle Alliot-Marie, announced an appeal of 14 out of the 27 verdicts, including those of the two main co-defendants, Samir Aït Abdelmalek (15 years, prosecution asked for 20 years) and Jean Christophe Soumbou (18 years, prosecution asked for 20 years).
Richard Prasquier, president of CRIF, France's main Jewish organization, said that a law may soon be available that would preclude closed-door trials in this type of case. "Perhaps in a year's time there will be a new trial, and perhaps it will be public." A Halimi relative said: "The important thing for me is not handing out heavier jail terms, honestly. The important thing is to open this to the press and public and make it a learning experience."
The retrial was officially announced Monday 10 July 2009. It started on 25 October 2010 and ended on December 17, 2010, with all convictions upheld and time added to some sentences.
- 24 Days: The Truth about the death of Ilan Halimi, by his mother, Mrs. Ruth Halimi (co-authored by Emily Frêche)
- If This Is A Jew: Reflections on the Death of Ilan Halimi, by Adrien Barrot, Jan. 2007, ISBN 978-2-84186-364-8
- König, Yaël (March 20, 2006). "Entretien avec Ruth Halimi" (in (French)). Primo-Europe. Retrieved 2008-12-30.
- Fields, Suzanne (April 3, 2006). "The rising tide of anti-Semitism". The Washington Times. Retrieved 2008-12-30.
- Suspects in death of French Jew face trial, Yedioth Ahronoth
- Le Monde, 13 July 2009.
- "France: Convictions Upheld in Killing of French Jew". The New York Times. 17 December 2010. Retrieved 16 November 2011.
- Campbell, Matthew (April 2, 2006). "Barbarians of suburbs target French Jews". World News (London: Times Online). Retrieved May 12, 2009.
- Smith, Craig S. (March 5, 2006). "Torture and Death of Jew Deepen Fears in France". International (The New York Times). Retrieved May 11, 2009.
- Rotella, Sebastian; Achrene Sicakyuz (February 26, 2006). "Parisians Stare at the Evil Within". Los Angeles Times. pp. A–1. Retrieved 2008-12-30.
- see "The trial of Halimi's murderers is still ongoing, but it has not been suggested that their motives were 'Islamic' or that the gang was held together by Muslim cultural or religious hegemony." in Matt Carr, Christopher Caldwell dissected, 2009-07-02
- http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/11/world/europe/11france.html has 4 siblings. Stole a car & beat its owner at age 19; served 2 years for this. Also had "run-ins" with police.
- "Fofana, la confession scandale" (in (French)). Le Figaro. February 28, 2006. Retrieved 2008-12-30.
- Lévy, Alexandre (February 27, 2006). "La composition de la bande se précise, poursuite des interrogatoires de Fofana" (Abstract) (in (French)). Le Monde. Retrieved 2008-12-30.
- (see ) Liberation, 01 March 2006 (French)]
- His name was not published in the initial accounts
- (French) AFP, June 30, 2009
- Bernard, Ariane; Craig S. Smith (February 23, 2006). "The Past Didn't Go Anywhere". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-03-13.
- Bernard, Ariane; Craig S. Smith (February 23, 2006). "French Officials Now Say Killing of Jew Was in Part a Hate Crime". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-12-30.
- "La police cherche encore des membres du gang" (in (French)). Le Figaro. February 27, 2006. Retrieved 2008-12-30.
- Naughton, Philippe (February 23, 2006). "Paris kidnap gang suspect arrested in Ivory Coast". The Times (London). Retrieved May 5, 2010.
- http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3515340,00.html quotes Philippe Ovadia, the head of the Jewish community living in the very same lower-class area as the place where Halimi was held captive.
- Rotella, Sebastian (February 21, 2006). "Anti-Semitism Is Alleged in French Torture-Killing". The World (Los Angeles Times). pp. A.3. Retrieved 2007-03-23.
- Nidra Poller, Poller, Nidra (February 26, 2006). "The Murder of Ilan Halimi". The Wall Street Journal. Archived from the original on 2006-02-26. Retrieved 2007-03-23.;
- Murdered man’s mother blames police, Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA), April 2, 2009.
- Rutgers University Students Pay Tribute to Hate-Crime Victim May 01, 2006
- OSCE at 'Critical Point' in Fight Against Anti-Semitism Helsinki Commission Briefing Details Initiatives to Combat Intolerance. May 12, 2006
- Trials and Tribulations, by Brett Kline, (c) JTA, The Jewish Herald, July 24, 2009, pp. 20-23
- Chrisafis, Angelique (April 29, 2009). "Trial opens into alleged gang kidnap, torture and murder of French Jew". World News (London: guardian.co.uk). Retrieved May 12, 2009.
- "Mother of slain French Jew Ilan Halimi calls for public trial". Jewish World. Haaretz. April 30, 2009. Retrieved May 12, 2009.
- DPA (April 29, 2009). "Anti-Semitic torture trial opens in Paris". Earthtimes. Retrieved May 12, 2009.
- after the trial, "Lawyers on both sides said that they regretted the move, saying the trial would have been instructive for society." (NY Times)
- AP (April 30, 2009). "Family of Slain French Jew Walks Out of Murder Trial". World (Fox News). Retrieved May 12, 2009.
- http://ejpress.org/article/37916 (European Jewish Press) reported: The verdict was handed down late on Friday as Shabbat already started — by nine judges and a nine-member jury
- "French 'Barbarian' killer jailed". BBC News. July 10, 2009. Retrieved May 5, 2010.
- Youssouf Fofana jailed for the torture and murder of Ilan Halimi, Times Online, July 11, 2009
- (French) Peine maximale pour le cerveau du «gang des barbares, Libération, 11/07/2009
- Associated Press (December 17, 2010), "France: Convictions Upheld in Killing of French Jew", The New York Times, retrieved 2010-12-17
Media reports 
In English 
- The barbarians of Europe: The brutal murder of Ilan Halimi, By Tom Gross, The Jerusalem Post, 28 February 2006
- Killing in France Seen as 'Wake-Up Call', The Washington Post, 25 February 2006
- Anti-Semitism seen rising among France's Muslims, The Boston Globe, 13 March 2006
- Trial opens into alleged gang kidnap, torture and murder of French Jew, The Guardian, 29 April 2009
- Kline, Brett (March 22, 2006). "Mother of murdered French Jew speaks out on what went wrong" (free registration required). Around the Jewish World. Jewish Telegraphic Agency. Archived from the original on 2007-03-23. Retrieved 2007-09-03.
- Torture-slaying raises fear of anti-Semitic resurgence, San Francisco Chronicle, 26 February 2006
In French 
- Les événements heure par heure, timeline of events from Le Nouvel Observateur, 24 February 2006
- Itinéraires d'une bande meurtrière, Libération, 22 February 2006