Judge bans photos of Ilan Halimi’s torture

By Natasha Lehrer, May 27, 2009
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Ilan Halimi, who was kidnapped and held for ransom in Paris in 2006

Ilan Halimi, who was kidnapped and held for ransom in Paris in 2006

A French judge has ordered a publisher to stop the sale of all copies of a magazine that featured a photograph of Ilan Halimi, the Jewish man who was kidnapped in 2006 by a gang currently standing trial for his murder.

The photo, which appeared on the front cover of the June edition of Choc (“Shock”), shows Halimi bound and gagged and with a pistol held to his head. It was taken during Halimi’s three-week kidnap ordeal and sent to his family in an attempt to extort a €450,000 ransom.

News kiosks were given two days to comply with the court’s ruling, and the magazine’s publisher was threatened with a €200 fine for each copy of the magazine sold after the Friday deadline.

Halimi’s mother and two sisters had demanded the withdrawal of the magazine because of “injury to the dignity of private life”. His mother, Ruth, was awarded €20,000 damages, whilst each sister received €10,000.

Prosecutor Pauline Caby acknowledged that it is rare for a magazine to be withdrawn for invasion of privacy, but pointed out that the penalty was necessary, bearing in mind that the picture was on the magazine’s front page. Lawyers for Choc pointed out that the photograph had already been shown during a television report on the murder in October 2006. The magazine will appeal.

Twenty seven members of the gang are on trial in Paris, on various charges of involvement in his kidnap, torture and murder. Meanwhile Youssouf Fofana, 28, the leader of the Barbarians gang, who was extradicted to France from the Ivory Coast where he fled after the murder, has sacked two of his legal team.

Roger Cukierman, president of the Crif umbrella body of French Jewry, said that Halimi’s murder was “one of the worst incidents for the Jewish community in France, if not the worst.” However, the French police have been at pains to downplay antisemitic aspects of the crime.

The trial is closed to the press.

Last updated: 2:31pm, May 27 2009