Lyon, France
Lyon, France iStock

An 89-year-old man who was pushed out of his 17th-storey window by a neighbor may have been killed because he was Jewish, a prosecutor said Friday, according to AFP.

The body of the man, René Hadjaj, was found at the foot of his building in Lyon, southeast France, on May 17. Police arrested the 51-year-old neighbor but investigators did not initially charge him with a racist crime.

"After social media postings were provided to us, the prosecutor’s office has asked judges to consider the aggravating circumstance of an act committed because of the victim's ethnicity, nationality, race or religion," Lyon prosecutor Nicolas Jacquet told AFP.

He did not provide examples of the posts, but Gilles-William Goldnadel, a lawyer and commentator for CNews television, said Wednesday on Twitter that the suspect had called out Goldnabel in messages, including one that told him to "remember your origins."

"It's no longer a question of telling us it's the act of a mentally disturbed person. The truth of antisemitism must no longer be hidden," Goldnadel wrote.

Reports about the incident evoked anger and disbelief among multiple French Jews on social networks and beyond, who noted the similarities between this case and the murder of Jewish woman Sarah Halimi in 2017.

Halimi, an Orthodox Jewish woman in her sixties, died after being pushed out of the window of her Paris flat by her neighbor, Kobili Traoré, who was shouting "Allahu Akbar" during the act.

Traoré confessed to the killing but a subsequent psychiatric evaluation determined that he was not responsible for his actions. While A French court said he acted out of antisemitic motives, it deemed he smoked large amounts of marijuana that triggered a psychotic episode, making him not criminally responsible for his actions at the time of Halimi’s slaying.

In the aftermath of the ruling, French Jews led a wave of infuriated protests.

In a more recent case, a Jewish man, Jérémie Cohen, died in a suburb of Paris after running into the path of a passing tram while escaping a group of individuals on the street.

Cohen’s death was initially treated as an accident until his family recovered footage of the assault. French prosecutors indicted two men for assaulting Cohen, but the indictment does not mention any antisemitic motive.

Last Sunday, the BNVCA antisemitism watchdog group said it would seek to be a plaintiff in the case, citing its similarity with murder of Halimi.

(Israel National News' North American desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Israel National News articles, however, is Israeli time.)