A Muslim man who killed his Jewish neighbor in Paris while shouting about Allah is probably not criminally responsible for his actions because he had smoked marijuana beforehand, a French judge has ruled.
The preliminary ruling in the trial of Kobili Traore for the 2017 murder of Sarah Halimi came Friday from a judge of inquiry — a magistrate that in the French justice system is tasked with deciding whether indicted defendants should in fact stand trial, JTA reported Monday.
Halimi was murdered in 2017 after she was attacked by her Muslim neighbor while she was sleeping in her apartment. He stabbed her, yelled "Allahu Akbar," and then threw her from the third story to her death.
Traore confessed to the killing but a subsequent psychiatric evaluation determined that he was not responsible for his actions.
Francis Khalifat, the president of the CRIF umbrella group of French Jewish communities, called the latest ruling “unsurprising but hardly justifiable.” He said his group and others will appeal in hopes of bringing Traore to trial.
He could be hospitalized for treatment of his psychotic lapses or made to attend a drug rehabilitation program, or he could be released.
Khalifat’s op-ed published Monday on the CRIF website follows a series of protests over perceived delays in Traore’s trial and the efforts, including by judges, that CRIF and others have condemned as attempts to prevent a murder trial.
An aggravated element of a hate crime was added to Traore’s indictment following vocal protests by CRIF, which said that the omission of such charges may have part of a “cover up” by French authorities.
Witnesses said Traore called Halimi a “demon” as he was pummeling her. Halimi’s daughter said following the murder that Traore called her, the daughter, a “dirty Jewess” two years before the killing when they passed each other in the building.
Sammy Ghozlan, a former police commissioner and founder of France’s Bureau for Vigilance Against Anti-Semitism, told JTA in May that the handling of the Halimi case has made him “no longer have full confidence that anti-Semitic hate crimes in France are handled properly.”
Anti-Semitic attacks have been on the rise in France. The number of anti-Jewish offences reported to police surged 74 percent last year.
In late May, a French-Jewish taxi driver was mugged and beaten in what he said was an anti-Semitic crime by perpetrators who targeted him because of his Jewish-sounding name.
Last March, 85-year-old Holocaust survivor Mireille Knoll was murdered and set on fire in her apartment in Paris. Knoll’s Muslim neighbor, Yacine Mihoub, and an accomplice, confessed to stabbing Knoll to death. Authorities described the murder as an anti-Semitic hate-crime.