Murder of Sarah Halimi
|Murder of Sarah Halimi|
|Location||Belleville, Paris, France|
|Date||4 April 2017 |
The Sarah Halimi case concerns the murder of a Jewish woman aged 65 in Paris on 4 April 2017 by Kobili Traoré, a native of Mali who shouted about religious ideas in Arabic during the murder. The suspect claimed insanity and was hospitalized.
After French authorities refused to do so, a French court officially reclassified Halimi's murder as an anti-semitic attack.
Dr Sarah Attal-Halimi, a 65-year-old Jewish woman, mother of three children, and retired physician, was beaten and defenestrated. It is uncertain if she was killed before the fall or if death occurred as a result of the fall. This occurred at her residence, a 3rd-floor apartment in the Belleville district of Paris on 4 April 2017.
Kobili Traoré, a 27-year-old neighbor, a drug dealer and drug addict claimed insanity and was promptly held in a psychiatric hospital. An African immigrant from Mali, Traoré was reportedly enraged following a family dispute and gained access to the neighbouring apartment of a different family, who immediately locked themselves into a bedroom, phoned police for help, and waited in fear as they listened to the intruder reciting verses from the Quran.
The police are believed to have first gone to the wrong building while Traoré climbed a balcony from the apartment where the family was sheltering behind a locked door, to the apartment of Halimi, the only Jewish resident of the building. When police finally arrived at the apartment the intruder had entered first, they delayed entering while they awaited the arrival of an elite squad, while more phone calls came in to the police emergency hotline reporting a woman screaming as a man apparently beat her and shouted "shut your mouth", Allahu Akbar, and "I killed the Shaitan" (the demon, or Satan, in Arabic).
The second district of the judicial police (2nd DPJ) of Paris was responsible for the investigation. On 7 April 2017, prosecutor François Molins, declared that, for the moment, this act could not be considered as an antisemitic murder but also that this track would be explored by the investigators.
A criminal case was opened for deliberate homicide with public prosecutor François Molins in charge of the investigation. The Libération newspaper revealed many new details about Traoré's past on 6 June 2017.
Traoré had never been confined to a psychiatric hospital before, but had spent several years in prison for acts of delinquency, aggravated violence and drug dealing. He was placed in custody. A toxicological analysis revealed the presence of cannabis in his blood. After a debate with the police, the doctor judged his psychiatric state to require transfer to a hospital without a hearing. The results of the psychiatric assessment were planned for mid-June and then postponed until the end of August.
Juridical procedure and complaints
Halimi's sister-in-law lodged a complaint on 20 June 2017 to denounce the inertia of the police and its lack of coordination.
On 10 July 2017, Kobili Traoré was apprehended and heard by the investigating judge. He recognized the facts about the murder, while denying any antisemitic motivation: "I felt like possessed. I felt oppressed by an external force, a demonic force." He attributes his condition to cannabis consumption.
On 12 July 2017, Traoré was "charged with intentional homicide to the detriment of Mrs Attal-Halimi and for forcible confinement" by the neighboring family via whose apartment he climbed into Halimi's apartment. He was placed under warrant but remained in hospital. Brigitte Kuster, a member of the 17th arrondissement of Paris, referred the matter to the Minister of the Interior. In September 2017, the prosecutor officially characterized the murder as an "antisemitic" crime.
In February 2018, the investigator in charge admitted in writing the anti-Semitic nature of the killing as had already been indicated to Agence France-Presse (AFP) by a judicial source.
The London Times reported on 23 May 2017 that according to Jean-Alexandre Buchinger, an attorney for the victim's family, the murderer ought to have been charged with "murder with antisemitism as an aggravating circumstance", and also that French Jewish groups were alleging that this had not been done out of fear of encouraging support for the National Front (France) party's election campaign.
On 16 July 2017, Francis Kalifat, President of the CRIF, emphasized the antisemitic nature of the murder during the commemoration of the Vel' d'Hiv Roundup. The President of the Republic Emmanuel Macron then asked the court to clarify the matter despite the alleged murderer's claims.
On 1 June 2017, Belgian MEP in the European Parliament, Frédérique Ries denounced the French authorities' "silent silence" over the murder of Sarah Halimi during a debate in the European Parliament on the fight against antisemitism.
The Washington Post covered the story in the context of discussing a broad reluctance on the part of French media and investigators to label attacks as "terrorism", comparing it to the 2006 killing of Ilan Halimi, believed to have been a distant relative of Sarah Halimi.(p35) in which French authorities similarly refused to acknowledge the antisemitic nature of the murder. The Halimi murder generated significant public reaction in France and worldwide, with intellectual, media, political and Jewish communal voices demanding that antisemitism and Islamic terrorism be investigated as possible motives, and accusing both the French government and press of a coverup.
Paris prosecutor François Molins received representatives of the Jewish community and attempted to reassure them that the issue is not one of antisemitism, but that the possibility is being investigated. According to Gilles-William Goldnadel, a French political commentator and attorney for the Halimi family, Sarah Halimi's murderer had "the profile of a radical Islamist, and yet somehow there is a resistance to call a spade a spade.”
French journalist Marc Weitzmann published a long article accusing the French government and press of covering up this and other acts of violent antisemitism on 25 May 2017 in the American magazine Tablet.
Alexandra Laignel-Lavastine, a French academic, published an open letter on 25 May 2017 in the newspaper Atlantico, "From Ilan to Sarah Halimi, France unworthy" and addressed it to Gérard Collomb, appointed Minister of the Interior a week earlier, in which she denounced "one country where it has once again become possible to assassinate Jews without our countrymen being overly disturbed" and "the deliquescent atmosphere that reigns in the country of Dieudonné".
Seventeen intellectuals, including Michel Onfray, Élisabeth Badinter, Jacques Julliard, Georges Bensoussan, Alain Finkielkraut and Marcel Gauchet, published on 2 June 2017 the lead article in Le Figaro asking that light be shed "on the death of this French woman of Jewish religion killed at the cries of 'Allah Akbar'" and denounced "the denial of the real" and the fact that "this crime of a rare barbarism, which took place in the middle of the presidential campaign, received little attention from the media".
On 5 June 2017, Bernard-Henri Levy again stressed the fact that, although Sarah Halimi was tortured and defenestrated at the cry of "Allahu Akbar", justice and the press "are reluctant to pronounce the word 'antisemitism'".
The same day, the former high magistrate Philippe Bilger evoked the Halimi case in an opinion piece published by Le Figaro. On 6 June 2017, columnist Gérard Leclerc of Radio Notre-Dame denounced the media silence.
On 8 June 2017, Michel Onfray wondered in a video about the silence surrounding this murder: "How can we kill this poor lady twice? By not giving this information the echo that it deserved, it was to consider that the echo of this murder counted for nothing". He adds that "whenever there is an escalation in terror, there is an escalation in the denial of terror. Every real is today evacuated and swept 'if it is likely to play the game of the National Front (France)'. But reality always avenges itself one day".
On 13 July 2017, the CRIF posted a newsletter on the topic. It reminds that the murder occurred a hundred days ago, but that the suspect was still under examination for voluntary homicide while the aggravating circumstance of antisemitism was not retained. It asked: "Why this antisemitic denialism?".
In May 2019, Shimon Samuels of the Simon Wiesenthal Center Europe complained about the fact that Traoré was still considered unfit for trial, that the nature of the crime was irrefutably antisemitic, then said that "If justice is perverted and murder excused due to drug addiction, this sets a precedent for every drunk driver to be similarly acquitted."
The "white march", a gathering of between 1000-2000 people, was organized on 9 April 2017 by the Representative Council of the Jewish Institutions of France (Crif) to demand that the actual facts be revealed to the public. BFM TV added that the victim, before being defenestrated, was beaten. The march started at the local Belleville metro station and ended at the site of Sarah Halimi's homicide. Observers followed the march from their windows. "It was a drug addict", exclaimed a neighbor. Some participants attempted to enter the building where Halimi lived, kicking on the door.[why?] White roses were placed at the building's entrance.
Some sources have said the peaceful rally was brutally stopped by the French police after some participants displaying Israel flags started singing the Israel national anthem after having sung the French anthem.[verification needed]
Gilles-William Goldnadel, a lawyer for one of the victim's sisters, expressed in the center-right leaning Le Figaro on 22 May that, "the assassin presents the classic profile of the usual Islamist criminals [...] But what tightens The heart of man and of the lawyer, is called public indifference", highlighting the suspect's judicial past.
The French Jewish press belatedly reported on the matter on 9 June 2017, asserting that based on evidence and witnesses, nothing confirmed an antisemitic character to the crime, expressing confidence in the authorities and urging French Jews not to spread rumors on social media.
Thomas Bidnic, a lawyer for Traoré, stated on 31 May that the suspect, still in psychiatric confinement, might not face trial.
Sarah Halimi's son described her as having "studied medicine for seven years, and was a family practitioner.":p.34 Years later, in the process of raising her children together with her late husband, a psychologist, she decided to apply for an open position as director of a government-funded preschool that "became famous across Paris."
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[France President Macron] also called for an investigation into the death of Sarah Halimi, a 66-year-old woman who in April was thrown from the window of her Paris apartment
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