“Why did the police lie?” Paris cops could have prevented antisemitic murder of Sarah Halimi, didn’t act, French parliamentary inquiry is told.
French police were in a position to prevent the brutal antisemitic murder of a Jewish woman in her Paris apartment in April 2017 but failed to act, a French parliamentary inquiry has been told.
The inquiry into the murder of 65-year-old Sarah Halimi by Kobili Traore — who chanted Islamic prayers as he beat his victim senseless before throwing her body out of a third-floor window — heard from witnesses that police who attended the scene had a set of keys to the apartment directly adjacent to Halimi’s, but did not enter the premises until almost an hour after the killing.
Launched in September and chaired by Meyer Habib, a parliamentary deputy for the liberal UDI Party, the inquiry has been gathering evidence of contradictory statements about the night of the murder. The commissioners heard that Traore had crossed over to Halimi’s balcony from the adjacent apartment, where his relatives, the Diarra family, resided, just after 4 a.m. on April 4, 2017. After murdering Halimi, he returned to the Diarra’s apartment at 4:45 a.m.
The police did not enter the Diarra apartment to arrest Traore until 5.35 am. But according to the inquiry’s findings, the official report that police officers were forced to break into the Diarra’s apartment was false. Thieman Diarra, the family’s father, confirmed to the inquiry that he had thrown a set of keys to his apartment to the officers at 4:20 a.m., which would have allowed them to apprehend Traore before he broke into Halimi’s apartment.
The inquiry’s revelations raise further questions about the response of the French authorities to Halimi’s murder, which culminated in the decision of the country’s highest court in April to excuse Traore from a criminal trial, on the grounds that his intake of cannabis on the night of the murder had rendered him temporarily insane.
Commenting on the inquiry’s finding that the police had keys to the Diarra’s apartment contrary to their original claims, the “Group Against Silence” — an organization campaigning on behalf of the Halimi family — said it was “clear that the police could easily have prevented the murder of Sarah Halimi by entering the Diarra’s residence at 4:22 am, or fifteen minutes before Sarah Halimi was defenestrated by Kobili Traore.”
In a statement, the group added: “Why did the police lie? What is the criminal and judicial significance of this lie? A new comprehensive judicial investigation — entrusted to an independent prosecution — is inevitable in what could turn out to be a major police and judicial scandal.”
The Halimi murder and its aftermath was a major shock for French Jews amid a climate of rising antisemitism. When the decision to excuse Traore from trial was announced, a statement from CRIF — the umbrella body representing French Jews — declared that “now in our country, we can torture and kill Jews with impunity.”