France Supreme Court Upholds That Suspected Jewish Woman’s Killer Unfit to Stand Trial

Jewish groups condemned the French court’s ruling.

Jewish Journal

Aaron Bandler

April 14, 2021

Photo: Polymagou / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 4.0

France’s Supreme Court of Appeals upheld a 2019 lower court ruling concluding that the suspected killer of a Jewish woman is unfit to stand trial.

In 2017, Sarah Halimi was killed after being thrown out of her apartment; the suspected killer, Halimi’s neighbor, Kobili Traore, allegedly shouted “Allahu Akbar” before killing her. He then apparently shouted, “I have killed the sheitan! [demon]”

On April 14, the French Supreme Court agreed with the lower court’s conclusion that because Traore was a frequent marijuana smoker, he was in a psychotic state at the time of killing and is therefore not responsible for Halimi’s death. Traore is currently being held in a psychiatric facility.

Jewish groups condemned the French court’s ruling. Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt tweeted that the ruling “is an outrageous & unacceptable miscarriage of justice.”

Dr. Shimon Samuels, director of international relations for the Simon Wiesenthal Center, said in a statement that the ruling is “a devastating blow” to Halimi’s family and noted that her family’s lawyers have argued that because Traore voluntarily smoked weed, he must have known of the risks involved in taking it.

The ruling, Samuels argued, “confirms that it is possible to deny justice for a murder aggravated by its antisemitic character. Furthermore, this decision denies closure for the family and potentially creates a precedent for all hate criminals to simply claim insanity or decide to smoke, snort or inject drugs or even get drunk before committing their crimes.

The memory of Sarah Halimi, Mireille Knoll and other victims of antisemitic hatred, lives on.”

StandWithUs co-founder and CEO Roz Rothstein tweeted, “This NO WORDS. Unbelievable. How can this judge even be a judge? Sarah Halimi: we will not forget your name…and your story. May your memory be a blessing.”

Former Democratic New York State Assemblyman Dov Hikind, who heads the Americans Against Anti-Semitism watchdog, also tweeted, “A country that protects murderers from prosecution because….they were high on marijuana(!) is one clearly in a dystopian state of decay. TO THE FRENCH GOVERNMENT: YOU WILL REAP WHAT YOU SOW!”

Traore’s attorney, Patrice Spinosi, has argued that the ruling is consistent with how French law is currently written. The Halimi family lawyers plan to try the case at the European Court of Human Rights.

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