In reversal, French police to investigate Jewish’s man’s murder as antisemitism

Investigators will be able to more thoroughly examine the possibility that the suspect was radicalized and that the murder was premeditated.

By David Hellerman, World Israel News

In a reversal sought by French Jews, police are investigating the murder of an 89-year-old Jewish man as an act of antisemitism.

René Hadjaj was reportedly strangled, then pushed off the balcony on the 17th floor of an apartment building in Lyon on May 17. A 51-year-old man who lived in Hadjaj’s building confessed to the killing. The suspect’s name has not been released, but BNCVA — a Paris-based antisemitism watchdog — claimed that Hadjaj was acquainted with the suspect, who it said is a Muslim of Arab origin.

According to the Jewish Chronicle, by examining the murder as antisemitic, investigators will be able to examine the suspect’s phones and computers, do a more thorough background check to examine the possibility that the suspect was radicalized and that the murder was premeditated.

French investigators sparked Jewish anger by initially ruling out antisemitism as a motive, claiming the murder was the result of an argument between the two.

Many online users have pointed out the similarity between Hadjadj’s murder and that of Sarah Halimi, a 65-year-old Jewish woman who was thrown from the window of her Paris apartment by her Muslim neighbor shouting antisemitic epithets in 2017.

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Outraging the Jewish community, the court ruled last year that her murderer, Kobili Traore, was not criminally responsible because he was experiencing a psychotic episode after smoking a large quantity of marijuana.

Also noted was the more recent case in February of Jérémie Cohen, who died after running into a tram while being chased by a gang that had beaten him up. Then, too, the police considered it simply an accident until the Cohen family, working alone, unearthed video evidence of the assault.

It is still unclear whether the motive was antisemitic in this case, but Cohen’s skullcap was found on the street near the spot where the incident occurred.