The Paris Appeals Court on Thursday upheld a lower court ruling that a Muslim man who killed his Jewish neighbour will not face trial because he was too high on marijuana to control his actions.
The court relieved Kobili Traore, 29, of criminal responsibility for his slaying of Sarah Halimi, whom Traore pummelled for about an hour while shouting about Allah and calling her a demon before throwing the 60-year-old physician to her death from the window of her third-story apartment. It did say that the killing was partly because of antisemitism.
Traore had a “delusional episode” because of a large amount of marijuana he ingested shortly before he entered Halimi’s apartment, the court said. He is to be hospitalised for treatment of his psychotic lapses or made to attend a drug rehabilitation program, AFP reported.
But Traore, whom Halimi’s daughter said once called her a “dirty Jew” on the building’s staircase, “does appear to have voluntarily ended the life of Sarah Halimi,” the court also said. It retained the aggravated element of a hate crime in the indictment against Traore, but determined it would not go to trial because Traore was not fully aware of his actions on the night of April 3, when he killed Halimi, according to the court.
The appeals court’s decision “marks the advent of a policy that gives impunity to antisemitic murder in France, EUJF, the French-Jewish student association, wrote Thursday on Twitter.
The European Jewish Congress (EJC) branded the decision “scandalous”, with Dr. Moshe Kantor, President, saying it “opens the door to large-scale impunity”.
“The court has sent a message to criminals that they will be able to walk free from the most heinous crimes by taking illegal substances.”
Francis Kalifat, President of the Representative Council of Jewish Institutions in France (CRIF) declared: “Is an antisemitic crime the only crime that is excused by the judiciary because of massive drug-taking, whereas in all other crimes the judiciary would consider that to be an aggravating circumstance?”
“We stand in solidarity with the family of Sarah Halimi, which has been denied justice by this incomprehensible decision”, Dr. Kantor concluded.