Israeli law invoked to bring Sarah Halimi’s murderer to justice

Israeli law allows Israeli citizens to file a complaint against anti-Semitic crimes committed abroad.

By Meira Svirsky, World Israel News

In an effort to exact justice for Sarah Halimi – a French Jewish woman who was brutally murdered in Paris in 2017 – Esther Lekover, Halimi’s sister, is making use of a law allowing Israeli citizens to file a criminal complaint against those who commit anti-Semitic attacks abroad.

Halimi, 65, was beaten and then thrown out of a window of her apartment by her neighbor, Kobili Traore, 27, who was shouting “Allahu Akbar” (“God is greatest”) at the time. Adjudicating the case, a French court ruled that Traore was not criminally responsible for the murder because he carried it out during a psychotic episode brought on by prolonged use of marijuana.

The ruling – which shocked the Jewish community as well as French President Emmanuel Macron, French politicians and the public – was upheld by the French Court of Cassation’s Supreme Court of Appeals in April.

The Israeli lawsuit, first reported by the Israeli news outlet Ynet, will most likely not result in the extradition of Traore, as France rarely extradites its citizens. Traore has remained in psychiatric care since committing the crime.

In a video message sent to the American Jewish Committee (AJC) Virtual Global Forum in June, Macron said that in response to the ruling, the minister of justice is seeking to modify the “current legal framework where the perpetrator deliberately takes toxic substances” in order to place more responsibility on the perpetrator.

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“It is indeed shocking that someone who takes drugs in order to change their mental state is not held accountable,” he said.

In response, then Israeli president Reuven Rivlin said to Macron in a letter, “I appreciate your ethical and legal position and your determination to introduce an amendment to the criminal code. Your quick and clear response sends a clear message to the family of the victim and to France as a whole that law as it currently stands is deficient, and that deficiency has allowed a despicable murderer to evade justice and punishment.”

The April ruling prompted a French judge with more than 25 years of experience to resign in protest, asking, “What is this justice, that takes up the cause of what appears to be an anti-Semitic assassination?”