Ilan Halimi murderers retried

By Michel Zlotowski, December 22, 2010

The President of the Council of French Jewish Organisations, Richard Prasquier, said he was satisfied with the retrial of the self-proclaimed "Gang of Barbarians" who tortured to death Ilan Halimi five years ago.

A court of appeal handed stiffer sentences to the two main accomplices of gang leader Yusuf Fofana, who had their convictions increased from 15 to 18 years. The rest of the accused had their first sentence confirmed.

Mr Prasquier also said he "regretted the fact that the retrial was held behind closed doors, due to the fact that some of the accused were under-age when the criminal action was perpetrated. We expected a change in the law so that this retrial would have been an occasion to demonstrate what the real outcome of antisemitism is."

Mr Halimi, a 23-year-old mobile phone salesman, was targeted because "Jews are rich" and the Jewish community would pay for his release, according to what Fofana and his associates told the police.

Fofana, a devout Muslim according to his father, tortured Halimi for three weeks with the aid of 26 others. Mr Halimi was eventually released naked, blindfolded, gagged and handcuffed, near a railway track. He died upon his arrival at the hospital.

A first trial was held in 2009. Fofana was handed a life sentence, eligible for parole after 22 years, the maximum penalty under French law. He did not appeal his sentence. Sorour Arbabzadeh, the then 17-year-old girl who lured Mr Halimi into the gang's trap, got nine years; this sentence was confirmed by the court of appeal.

The retrial was requested by the then-Minister of Justice Michèle Alliot-Marie, who said: "To release after such a short time people who perpetrated such barbarous actions may send a negative signal to those who trivialize violence."

Last updated: 1:44pm, December 22 2010