Minister will appeal against Halimi murder sentence

By Jessica Elgot, July 13, 2009
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The French Justice Minister has accepted an appeal against the light sentencing of those involved in the murder of Ilan Halimi, which could mean a complete retrial.

Youssouf Fofana, the leader of the self-described French "gang of barbarians" was sentenced to life imprisonment for kidnapping and torturing Ilan Halimi, 23, for more than three weeks, until leaving him to die by some railway tracks.

But Ilan Halimi's family and lawyers have now been successful in their efforts to persuade French Minister for Justice Michèle Alliot-Marie to appeal against the sentencing of others implicated in the crime and to ask for a complete retrial.

"This morning, I asked the prosecutor from the Paris court of appeals to appeal against the sentences, that were inferior to what was requested by the original prosecutor," Ms Alliot-Marie said.

The gang abducted Ilan Halimi in 2006, apparently intending to hold him ransom. They tortured him until he was close to death and then left him, naked and bleeding, near a train station. He died shortly after he was found.

Fofana, who admitted killing Ilan Halimi, was sentenced to life imprisonment, with a minimum period in jail of 22 years. Twenty-four other members were handed sentences ranging from six months suspended sentences to 18 years in prison — and two were acquitted.

The girl who apparently lured Ilan Halimi to his death was given nine years in prison, but under French law she could be free in two years.

Halimi family lawyer Francis Szpiner said he was pleased the court recognized the antisemitic character of the crime. "It was because he was Jewish that Ilan Halimi was killed and tortured. No one can challenge this judicial truth."

Last updated: 1:32pm, July 13 2009