Paris woman’s brutal murder declared anti-Semitic act

After initially balking at ascribing killing of Sarah Halimi to anti-Jewish sentiment, magistrate now accepts hate crime element in indictment against Kobili Traore

Sarah Halimi. (Courtesy of the Confédération des Juifs de France et des amis d'Israël)
Sarah Halimi. (Courtesy of the Confédération des Juifs de France et des amis d'Israël)

PARIS, France — The brutal murder of an orthodox Jewish woman in France has been declared an anti-Semitic act, a legal source told AFP on Tuesday, after a campaign to draw attention to the crime.

When Sarah Halimi, 65, died last April in Paris, her family and Jewish groups blamed anti-Semitism.

William Attal, the brother of Sarah Halimi who was killed in April in an apparent anti-Semitic attack, outside the central synagogue in the Creteil suburb of Paris, June 17, 2017. (Raoul Wootliff/Times of Israel)

Kobili Traore, 27, who was arrested the day after the killing, went before the instructing magistrate on Tuesday, who finally added anti-Semitism to the charges, the source said.

Traore was Halimi’s neighbour and allegedly broke into her apartment in a public housing development in eastern Paris on the night of April 3.

Amid shouts of “Allah Akbar” (God is great), Koranic verses and insults, he beat Halimi before throwing her out of the window.

“I’ve killed the demon,” he allegedly shouted in Arabic.

The murder stirred debate over anti-Semitism and violence in working-class districts of France. Officials had been reluctant to ascribe the crime to anti-Semitism.

Earlier this month, the judge scrapped a hate crime element from the indictment of Traore; the prosecution appealed the decision.

Some 1,000 members of France’s Jewish community gathered outside the home of Sarah Halimi in Paris to commemorate her alleged anti-Semitic murder last week, April 9, 2017. (Screen capture: 0404 Video)

Despite having taken a large amount of cannabis before the killing, psychiatric testing found he was still responsible for his actions which were “not incompatible with an anti-Semitic dimension.”

The prosecutor then called for anti-Semitism to be added to the charges, as Jewish groups had demanded.

Last month they started legal action demanding a response from the instructing magistrate on whether Halimi was targeted because of her religion.

The affair took a political turn last July when President Emmanuel Macron called for the full facts to be known during a visit by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

France’s half-a-million-plus Jewish community has voiced increasing concern with a rise in anti-Semitic acts that have seen thousands of Jews leave for Israel.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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