“It’s a second Dreyfus Affair. It’s a denial. It’s a disgrace. There was no trial, the murderer is on his way to freedom.”
By Pesach Benson, United With Israel
Instead of inspiring the Jewish community’s confidence, a French government report into the murder of Sarah Halimi released earlier in January is raising more questions, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency reported on Friday.
Halimi, a 65-year-old a retired doctor and schoolteacher, was murdered in a brutal 2017 attack. Her neighbor, Kobili Traore, the son of immigrants from Mali, broke into Halimi’s Paris apartment and beat her up while yelling “Allahu akbar,” “I have killed the Satan,” and Koranic verses. He then threw Halimi’s body off her third-floor balcony to the street below.
It took French authorities three months to acknowledge the attack as antisemitic. A court found that Traore had antisemitic motivations but also ruled that because he had used marijuana, he was not responsible for his actions. Traore, who has never been tried for Halimi’s death, is currently being held in a psychiatric facility.
A parliamentary committee led by French Jewish lawmaker Meir Habib began investigating the incident in September. The committee focused on decisions made by the police, the psychiatrists and the judiciary.
The report, as described by the JTA, paints a disappointing picture.
Neighbors called police after hearing Halimi’s screams, and one neighbor even provided officers with a key to the apartment before Halimi died.
Although police were literally outside the door while Traore continued his attack, the report concluded that the police followed procedures and could not have prevented her death. The report’s conclusions noted that the police handling of the case “does not represent a failure.”
The government’s report concluded that the psychiatric evaluation was “of good quality” despite what the JTA described as “challenging circumstances” for the medical professionals involved.
As for the justice system, “the judiciary followed perfectly the procedure” determined by law, according to the report.
Habib and two non-Jewish members of the parliamentary committee objected to the findings, saying they defied common sense, the JTA reported. Yet the committee approved the report by a vote of 7-5.
In interviews since the report’s release, Habib has compared the findings to the Dreyfus Affair in which French Jewish military officer Alfred Dreyfus was convicted on false charges of treason in 1894.
“It’s a tragic case. It’s a second Dreyfus Affair. It’s a denial. It’s a disgrace. There was no trial, the murderer is on his way to freedom,” Habib told Radio J, a local Jewish broadcaster.
Fellow lawmakers “refused to tell the truth, refused to come with us to the site to see the conditions, to see whether the 10 police officers who were there lied when they said they didn’t hear a single cry of a woman whose death cries, uttered for 14 minutes, had woken up the whole building. And yes, they lied.”
In December, the French senate passed legislation negating temporary insanity defenses related to the voluntary use of drugs. The legislation is regarded as a response to the “Halimi affair.”
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