Published on January 7, in the Daily Mail
Jewish groups in France reacted with fury today after a man understood to have killed Sarah Halimi, a retired medical doctor, in an anti-Semitic attack fuelled by cannabis, escaped criminal trial.
Kobili Traore, a 29-year-old African immigrant originally from Mali, had faced life in prison for the murder of Sarah Attal-Halimi, 65, in April 2017.
The Mali immigrant called his victim (an Orthodox Jew) "Satan" and recited verses from the Koran during the horrific attack at the council block in eastern Paris, where they both lived.
Psychiatrists concluded that Kobili Traore had suffered a "delusional episode" after smoking huge amounts of cannabis.
He beat Dr. Attal-Halimi, a mother of three grown up children who lived alone, before throwing her out of a third-storey window.
On Thursday, the Paris Appeals Court upheld a lower court ruling that Kobili Traore had been "unable to control himself" because of the drug.
But Francis Kalifat of Crif (the Representative Council of French Jewish Institutions) immediately expressed his "dismay and indignation" at the decision.
He said: "Is an anti-Semitic crime the only crime that is excused by the judiciary because of massive drug-taking, while for all other crimes judges would consider this to be an aggravating factor?"
And a spokesman for the EUJF (the French Jewish Student Association) said that the ruling "marks the advent of a policy that gives impunity to anti-Semitic murder in France".
While the court ruled that the killing was "partly caused by anti-Semitism", judges also said that Traore was not fully aware of his actions.
Before throwing Dr. Attal-Halimi out of the building, he was heard shouting: "A woman is trying to kill herself".
Police were heavily criticised for their slow reaction in the build-up to Dr. Attal-Halimi's death.
Kobili Traore had been heard threatening another family on the block in the Belleville district of Paris earlier in the day.
When officers finally arrived on the scene, they waited for special forces to show up before trying to arrest the killer.
He has been undergoing psychiatric treatment in hospital ever since, and is expected to remain there "for the foreseeable future", according to sources close to the case.
Jewish groups have reported a spike in anti-Semitism in the country in recent months.
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