France’s Justice Minister has vowed to close a so-called “cannabis loophole” that meant authorities ruled the killer of a Jewish doctor is unfit to stand trial.
The country’s highest court had drawn widespread anger earlier this month after it ruled Kobili Traore was not criminally responsible for the death of Sarah Halimi, 65, because he had succumbed to a “delirious fit” after smoking the drug.
On Sunday Eric Dupond-Moretti, France’s justice minister, said the government would present a bill to “fill the legal vacuum” by the end of May.
His announcement came as thousands of people gathered around the world to demonstrate against the loophole.
Near-simultaneous rallies were held in cities including Paris, London, Los Angeles and Tel Aviv, many of them outside French diplomatic missions.
Halimi died four years ago after Traore attacked her in her Paris flat while shouting “Allahu Akbar”.
He then pushed her out of the window onto the street below.
Her brother said on Sunday that the court verdict had been “a clap of thunder, a hammer blow”.
“It was terrible,” William Attal told several thousand people gathered near the Eiffel Tower in Paris, many of them carrying placards reading “Justice for Sarah” and “Jewish Lives Matter”.
One demonstrator, 26-year-old Nathan, told reporters: “A woman was thrown out of a window — maybe, probably, according to experts, because she was Jewish — and the person (who did it) is deemed not criminally responsible, because they smoked cannabis.
“When other criminal deeds take place and substances like alcohol and cannabis are involved, it often aggravates the sanction, it does not protect the culprit.”
Dame Maureen Lipman, who was among the speakers at the London rally, said “a Gallic knee is on the necks of French Jews and French Jews cannot breathe.”
Conformément à la demande du Président de la République, le gouvernement présentera fin mai en conseil des ministres un projet de loi pour combler le vide juridique apparu dans l’affaire Sarah Halimi.
Cette histoire tragique qui nous a tous marqués va faire avancer notre droit. pic.twitter.com/SqF2O28utj
— Eric Dupond-Moretti (@E_DupondM) April 25, 2021
On April 14, France’s Court of Cassation — sometimes referred to as the Supreme Court of Appeals — rulings by lower courts that Halimi’s killer could not stand trial because he had been too intoxicated to be responsible for the murder.
It rejected arguments by lawyers representing Halimi’s family that Traore had previously demonstrated antisemitic attitudes.
French president Emmanuel Macron was among those calling for a change in the law, leading to the announcement by his justice minister at the weekend.
While life in Israel has returned to normal and hopes are high that Britain is set for a summer without restrictions thanks to vaccines, for billions around the world there is no such imminent light at the end of the tunnel. In the majority of countries around the globe, particularly the poorest, the vaccine rollout has barely kicked off.
That's why Jewish News, the leading source of news and opinion for the entire UK community, is throwing its full weight behind UNICEF’s VaccinAid campaign by using this platform usually reserved for encouraging donations towards our own journalism to instead urge our readers around the globe to perform the greatest mitzvah: saving a life.
We have never before done this for any charity fundraiser but it's hard to recall a campaign that affects so many people, and indeed an entire planet aching for a return to normality. Just like the Chief Rabbi and Rachel Riley, we hope to boost the mission to deliver two billion vaccines, 165 million treatments and 900 million test kits around the world by the end of this year.
Please donate as much as you can, in the spirit of the Talmudic sages: “to save one life is to save the world entire”