Sarah Halimi’s killer is let out on day release – and could soon be freed

Kobili Traore has 'no mental disorder', claims French MP


The killer of Sarah Halimi has been let out on day release several times in recent months and could soon be freed for good, the JC can reveal.

Kobili Traore repeatedly bludgeoned the Jewish pensioner in her Paris flat before throwing her from the balcony in the brutal 2017 murder.

A French court deemed him to have been suffering from a drug-induced psychosis at the time of the attack and unfit to stand trial.

The unprecedented decision sparked outrage and protests by Jewish communities in France and around the world demanding justice for 65-year-old Mrs Halimi.

Traore has since been kept in a psychiatric hospital for treatment. However, the JC can now confirm that he has been let out on day release a number of times.

On more than one occasion he has visited his old apartment block in Paris — the site of the murder of his neighbour, Mrs Halimi.

In another extraordinary twist, it has also emerged that he is taking no psychiatric medication, only underlying the absurdity of the decision to spare him trial.

Mrs Halimi’s grief-stricken family now face the possibility of Traore walking the streets of Paris as a free man, should two independent psychiatrists decide he is sane and no longer presents a threat to society or himself.

The shocking revelations came from three French MPs heading up an investigation into the alleged mishandling of the case by the police and judicial system.

The probe was completed earlier this month. One of the MPs, François Pupponi, said: “Kobili Traore has no mental disorder. He regularly goes out of the psychiatric hospital and visits his old neighbourhood. He could be released definitively.”

Leading the probe was Meyer Habib, who represents French nationals residing abroad, including in Israel.

He said of Traore: “The only medication he gets are pills for headaches.”

There has been little official information released about Traore’s medical treatment.

Psychiatrists who diagnosed his psychosis at the time of the attack told the court back in 2019 that he does not seem to have any longstanding mental illness.

The police prefect of Paris ordered he remain in hospital. Traore can be released if he passes at least two separate independent psychiatric evaluations.

Traore’s lawyer Thomas Bidnic told the investigation that as far as he knows his client has not asked for a release hearing yet.

He said: “But he will eventually ask to be released and his release will be a victory for us all because the goal is for him to heal and to no longer be a threat to society.”

Mr Bidnic admitted Traore has continued to use drugs in hospital.

According to parliamentary hearings Traore returned at least twice to his family’s apartment in the bloc of buildings where he killed Mrs Halimi. The visits were supervised.

The court has ordered him to stay away from the Halimi family. None of her relatives now live in the area.

The appeals court decision to declare Traore criminally irresponsible and the high court’s confirmation of that ruling triggered a national outcry.

Seven psychiatrists diagnosed Traore as suffering from psychosis at the time of the attack.

The High Court ruled that French law was unaffected by the fact his condition was self-induced.

President Macron called for a reform of the law. Parliament created an investigation commission to examine if the case was handled properly.

Lawyers representing Halimi’s family hoped the probe would reveal the killer had premeditated the attack and that the new findings would allow them to reopen the case.

But the investigation concluded that would be impossible.

Mr Pupponi told the JC: “Only a case in which a person has been convicted can be reopened. This case has never been tried so it can never be re-examined. The law would have to be changed for that to be possible in future cases. But it will never be possible for the Sarah Halimi case.”

MPs questioned two of the magistrates who investigated the case over their failure to examine the killer’s phones and their decision not to carry out re-enactments of the killing.

Meyer Habib said: “They didn’t even go to the site to understand what exactly happened.
“We went there, and we saw that there are many elements that show the killing was in all likelihood premeditated.”

Investigating magistrate Anne Ihuellou said: “The only thing that matters is that the suspect suffered a psychosis and was criminally irresponsible. There was no use re-enacting the killing since he had already admitted to it.

“There was no use examining his possible radicalism because that was not the role we had been assigned.

“We didn’t examine the phone because police did not find it. And we didn’t try to trace his calls because he never gave us his phone number.”

The second investigating magistrate in the case, judge Laurence Lazerges said: “The truth is that even if the killing had been premeditated this wouldn’t have necessarily changed anything.

“The High Court ruled in 2016 that a man who had premeditated a murder was criminally irresponsible because he suffered a schizophrenic episode. That’s the court’s jurisprudence.”

The Parliament report concluded that while police and magistrates could have made better decisions, none of them violated the law and there was no real failure in the case.

The president of the commission, one of its vice-presidents and three other MPs voted against the report, in an extremely rare turn of events for a parliamentary investigation.

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