Thousands protest in Paris over Halimi ruling

Call for change in the law, to be named after Sarah Halimi


Thousands protested in Paris and other French cities on Sunday against the High Court’s decision not to prosecute the killer of Sarah Halimi, a 65-year-old Jewish woman.

On 4 April 2017 at 4am, Kobili Traore broke into Halimi’s apartment through her balcony, beat her repeatedly and dragged her to the balcony shouting “Akahu Akabar”. Traore then threw Halimi out of her third-floor apartment. 

Psychiatrists said Traore suffered a psychotic attack and was not conscious of his actions after inhaling large quantities of cannabis on the day of the attack, but they also found he has no mental illness and were divided on whether he should be tried.

One of the experts said the killer was criminally responsible because he chose to use drugs and was therefore responsible for his mental state at the time of the attack. 

On 14 April the High Court upheld the lower court’s decision not to prosecute Traore on the grounds that French law does not differentiate between people who are mentally ill and those who lose consciousness because of drug consumption.

Following an outcry, French President Emmanuel Macron has said the law should be changed.

Sunday’s protests drew the largest crowds to date over the killing, with a majority of demonstrators coming from the Jewish community. 

“Honourable judges: Where is your honour?” said 18-year-old Sarah, holding a banner with toilet paper with the word “honour” it.

“This is yet another scandal. There is no justice in this country. Criminals always find excuses not to go to jail and our national leaders, like President Macron, and the administration have made this possible,” said 42-year-old Sylvain, who came with his wife and daughter, draped in the Israeli flag.

“This flag doesn’t just represent Israel. It represents all of the Jewish people who are facing growing antisemitism in this country. If this continues, there will be pogroms and massacres in decades to come.

“I know we can’t change anything for Sarah Halimi, but we can be part of a change of the law. I’m proud to be part of this movement,” said 18-year-old Jewish girl scout Alice.

While some protesters said the law should change, others said the High Court’s decision should be reversed.

“Will a change of the law make any difference to Sarah Halimi? We want this court decision to be revised!” Said Muriel Ouaknine-Melki who represents Sarah Halimi’s brother. “We have to continue this battle!”

"A new law should be named after Sarah Halimi," said Francis Kalifat, the head of Crif, the representative body for French Jews. "At least that way, although Sara Halimi is the victim of a lack of justice and although her family and society as a whole have been denied a historic trial over antisemitism, Sarah Halimi will be remembered."



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