Article – France: The Killing of Sarah Halimi: When Anti-Semitism Arises and Cannabis is Used to Avoid Justice

In April 2017, Sarah Halimi — a 65-year-old retired kindergarten director — was beaten and thrown to her death from her apartment in Paris by her neighbor, Kobili Traoré.

Four years after her murder, the French court ruled that Traoré is not criminally responsible for Halimi’s death because he was smoking cannabis at the time.


What Happened? 

In the early morning of April 4th, 2017 at 4:25 a.m., Traoré, a convicted drug dealer, entered Halimi’s apartment by force.

Traoré — then 27 years old — lived with his mother, stepfather and brother down the street from Halimi’s apartment. That night, Traoré had an argument at home with his family and was in an emotional state, according to reports.

Traoré got so aggressive that the entire family locked themselves in the bedroom and his stepfather called the cops. Three policemen responded within 13 minutes. But they entered the wrong apartment building. During that time, Traoré climbed into Halimi’s apartment, which was located in the neighbouring building.

Around 4:45 a.m., the police received a second call from a neighbour who thought a man was beating his wife. Other neighbours said they heard Traoré shouting “Allahu akbar,” “shut your mouth,” and “you sheitan!” meaning devil or Satan, according to Tablet Magazine.

Six policemen stood at the Traoré’s family door as they waited for an elite squid to intervene. When law enforcement arrived around 5 a.m., Traoré had already beaten and killed Halimi, Tablet Magazine reported further.

After the attack, Traoré went back to his family’s apartment through the balcony. He resumed praying until he was arrested without resistance at 5:35 a.m. He was then placed in a psychiatric institution, where he currently remains, France 24 reported.


Anti-Semitism, or Insanity?

Many believe the attack was motivated by anti-Semitism as witnesses heard Traoré, who is Muslim, shout “Allahu akbar,” and “you sheitan” while he attacked Haliti, who was Jewish.

According to the Jerusalem Post, Israel’s Diaspora Affairs Minister, Omer Yankelevich believes “Halimi was murdered only because she was a Jew.”

Others claim that Traoré was in a psychotic episode at the time of his attack, according to BBC.

In April of this year, the New York Times reported that the Court of Cassation — the highest court in France — ruled that Traoré cannot stand trial because he was in an acute mental state at the time of the murder. Specifically, experts determined that Traoré acted in a “delirious fit” due to his heavy cannabis use.

According to Article 122-1 of the French penal code, any person who performs a crime while suffering from a psychological or neuropsychological disorder will not be criminally liable.


Response to the Traoré’s Verdict

Four years after Halimi’s murder, the Court of Cassation’s verdict ended the judicial proceedings in France for the case.

In response, thousands gathered in major cities. There were gatherings in Paris, Tel Aviv, London, Rome, New York, Miami, and Los Angeles, The Jerusalem Post reported. Halimi’s brother, William Attal, and her son, Yonathan, attended demonstrations held at Paris’ Place Du Trocadero.

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The Killing of Sarah Halimi: When Anti-Semitism Arises and Cannabis is Used to Avoid Justice

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