Macron calls for legal change as killer of Jewish woman avoids trial

A demonstration in the wake of the murder of Sarah Halimi.
A demonstration in the wake of the murder of Sarah Halimi. © franceinfo

President Emmanuel Macron has urged a change in French law after a man who murdered a Jewish woman in 2017 avoided trial on the grounds that he acted in delirium due to drug-taking.


Jewish groups have reacted with outrage to last week's decision by France's highest court that Kobili Traore was not criminally responsible for the murder in 2017 of Sarah Halimi.

Halimi, a 65-year-old Orthodox Jewish woman, died in 2017 after being pushed out of the window of her Paris flat by 27-year-old neighbour Traore.

Traore, a heavy pot smoker, has been in psychiatric care since Halimi's death and he will remain in care in the wake of this ruling.

The court said he committed the killing after succumbing to a "delirious fit" and was thus not responsible for his actions.

President critical of original court decision

"Deciding to take narcotics and then 'going mad' should, not in my view, remove your criminal responsibility," Macron told right-wing Paris daily newspaper Le Figaro in an interview.

"I would like Justice Minister Eric Dupond-Moretti to present a change in the law as soon as possible", he added.

This is not the first time Macron has spoken about the case. The French leader criticised the lower court's insanity finding in January last year, drawing a sharp riposte from the country's top magistrates who invoked the separation of powers, under which the judiciary and the executive are supposed to act in complete independence.

"It is not for me to comment on a court decision," Macron told Le Figaro.

"But I want to assure the family, relatives of the victim and all fellow citizens of Jewish faith who were awaiting this trial of my warm support and the determination of the Republic to protect them." added the president.

Family appeal to European Rights Court 

Jewish groups said the court ruling had made Jews less safe in France, while lawyers representing Halimi's family said they intend to refer the case to the European Court of Human Rights.

French Jews have been repeatedly targeted by jihadists in recent years, most notably in 2012, when an Islamist gunman shot dead three children and a teacher at a Jewish school in the southern city of Toulouse, and in 2015 when a pro-Islamic State radical gunned down four people at a Jewish supermarket in Paris.

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