President Emmanuel Macron urged a change in French law after a man who murdered a Jewish woman in 2017 avoided a trial on the grounds he acted in delirium due to drug-taking, in an interview published Monday.
Jewish groups have reacted with outrage to the decision by France’s highest court on Wednesday 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 neighbour Traore, 27, who shouted “Allahu Akbar” (“God is great” in Arabic).
Traore, a heavy pot smoker, has been in psychiatric care since Halimi’s death and he remains there after the ruling.
The court said he committed the killing after succumbing to a “delirious fit” and was thus not responsible for his actions.
“Deciding to take narcotics and then ‘going mad’ should, not in my view, remove your criminal responsibility,” Macron told 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.
Halimi’s murder stoked debate over a new strain of anti-Semitism among radicalised Muslim youths in predominantly immigrant neighbourhoods.
This is not the first time Macron has waded into the case after he 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.
“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.
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.