French President Emmanuel Macron was quick to express his own indignation, and his intention to have that law relied on changed. Writes Hugh Fitzgerald
The killer of Sarah Halimi will not be tried for murder. He’ll spend a short time in a mental institution, treated for his cannabis use, that supposedly led to a “psychotic episode” during which he killed Halimi, and then be set free. This decision by the Cour de Cassation, France’s highest court of appeals, to not bring Kobili Traoré, the Muslim murderer of Halimi, to trial because he had been under the influence of marijuana when he beat her nearly to death and then threw her out of the window of her Paris apartment, has provoked indignation and fury among French Jews and many non-Jews. According to Traoré, he had been troubled by Ms. Halimi’s mezuzah, which “amplified the frantic outburst of hate,” according to one psychiatric report. But the Court noted in its ruling that under French law, “a person is not criminally responsible if suffering, at the time of the event, from psychic or neuropsychic disturbance that has eliminated all discernment or control” over the acts.
French President Emmanuel Macron was quick to express his own indignation, and his intention to have that law relied on changed. His response is reported on here: “French President Macron Seeks to Reassure Angry, Disappointed Jewish Community After Top Court Decides Against Trial of Accused Antisemitic Killer,” by Ben Cohen, Algemeiner, April 19, 2021:
French President Emmanuel Macron has called for a change in his country’s laws on criminal responsibility, following last week’s decision by France’s highest appeal court to excuse from trial the accused antisemitic murderer of a Jewish woman on the ground that his intake of cannabis supposedly rendered him temporarily insane on the night of the killing.
Speaking to the newspaper Le Figaro on Sunday, the French president was asked about last Wednesday’s decision by the Court of Cassation not to try Kobili Traoré for the brutal murder of Sarah Halimi in April 2017. The court argued that since Traore had imbibed what it termed an “acute delirious puff” on a marijuana joint that eliminated his “discernment” — or self-awareness — he could not “be judged criminally even when his mental state was caused by the regular consumption of drugs.”
Macron argued that the use of narcotics should not be a reason to remove the criminal liability of an offender.
In American law, a defendant charged with the use of narcotics or alcohol before committing a crime does not remove or limit criminal liability; if anything, it is likely to increase the punishment.
What we know about the killing is that it was an antisemitic crime: Sarah Halimi was Jewish, and her killer knew that. He hated Jews. He identified her with “Shaytan” (Satan). She was the only Jewish person in the entire apartment complex. That was all her killer needed to know about her. Had she not been Jewish, he would not have murdered her. He was particularly enraged, remember, by the sight of her mezuzah. He had grown up, as a devout Muslim, taught to hate Jews. He knew about the from his holy book, the Qur’an. As Robert Spencer notes, “the Qur’an depicts the Jews as inveterately evil and bent on destroying the wellbeing of the Muslims. They are the strongest of all people in enmity toward the Muslims (5:82); as fabricating things and falsely ascribing them to Allah (2:79; 3:75, 3:181); claiming that Allah’s power is limited (5:64); loving to listen to lies (5:41); disobeying Allah and never observing his commands (5:13); disputing and quarreling (2:247); hiding the truth and misleading people (3:78); staging rebellion against the prophets and rejecting their guidance (2:55); being hypocritical (2:14, 2:44); giving preference to their own interests over the teachings of Muhammad (2:87); wishing evil for people and trying to mislead them (2:109); feeling pain when others are happy or fortunate (3:120); being arrogant about their being Allah’s beloved people (5:18); devouring people’s wealth by subterfuge (4:161); slandering the true religion and being cursed by Allah (4:46); killing the prophets (2:61); being merciless and heartless (2:74); never keeping their promises or fulfilling their words (2:100); being unrestrained in committing sins (5:79); being cowardly (59:13-14); being miserly (4:53); being transformed into apes and pigs for breaking the Sabbath (2:63-65; 5:59-60; 7:166); and more.
Traoré was both a drug dealer and a habitual user of cannabis. He was, in other words, used to it. He led the life of a normal criminal and welfare crook, battening on all the benefits the French welfare state lavishes on its migrant population, so many of whom are Muslim. He received free or highly subsidized housing, free medical care, free education (not that education mattered to Kobili Traoré; he left school as soon as it was legally possible), and welfare payments. He increased his revenues by drug dealing. The day he killed Sarah Halimi, he had smoked marijuana, as he did most days. He was angry after a family dispute, and went looking for someone to take it out on. Whom to blame for that dispute and every other aspect of his wretched existence? Certainly not himself. Of course: Jews, they were to blame for his Muslim misery. They were the worst, they were the enemy, they were of the party of Satan. He knew that Sarah Halimi was the single Jew who lived in the building. Traoré displayed not “temporary insanity,” but malice aforethought, as he cunningly managed to gain entry to her apartment. He first entered the apartment next to hers, frightening its inhabitants to hide in a bedroom, then climbed through one of that apartment’s windows onto the balcony, and from the outside entered another window giving onto Sarah Halimi’s apartment. He wasn’t mentally ill, but consumed with an antisemitic hate, a hate that the Qur’an inculcated. Sarah Halimi was a Jew; she placed that mezuzah beside her front door – how dare she? – that so infuriated Traoré. She was, like all Jews, the “greatest in enmity” to the Muslims. While beating her Traoré could be heard uttering the Muslim supremacist war-cry of “Allahu akbar” (“Our god is greater than yours”), and he declared after her defenestration that “I have killed Shaitan (Satan).” There are many such murders of non-Muslims — Jews, Christians, Hindus — by Muslims following what they believe are Muslim teachings; no one thinks of charging them with “temporary insanity.”
“Deciding to take narcotics and then going ‘like crazy’ should not in my eyes remove your criminal responsibility,” Macron stated during the interview. “On this subject, I would like the Minister of Justice to present a change in the law as soon as possible.”
Macron also sought to reassure France’s Jewish community that they had his understanding and sympathy. Jewish leaders reacted furiously to the court’s decision, with Francis Kalifat — president of Jewish representative body CRIF — tweeting, “now in our country, we can torture and kill Jews with impunity.”
“It is not for me to comment on a court decision, but I would like to tell the family, relatives of the victim and all our fellow citizens of the Jewish faith who were awaiting this trial, my warm support and the determination of the Republic to protect them,” Macron said. “In the Republic, we do not judge citizens who are sick and no longer have discernment, we treat them. But deciding to take drugs and then becoming ‘like crazy’ should not in my eyes remove your criminal responsibility.”
During a visit to Israel in Jan. 2020, one month after a lower court deemed that Traoré was unfit for trial, Macron told a group of French Jews in Jerusalem that when it came to the Halimi case, “the need for a trial is there.”
This remark earned him the rebuke of the Court of Cassation’s top officials, who reminded Macron that “the independence of the judiciary is an essential condition for the functioning of democracy.”
In a separate development on Monday, Sarah Halimi’s brother confirmed that lawyers for the family would try to appeal the case before the European Court of Human Rights.
“I will continue fighting, our family will continue fighting,” William Attal said in an interview with broadcaster I-24.
It was not smoking cannabis – which was a regular part of his routine, and he was long inured to being high — that led Kobili Traoré, upset about a family quarrel, to quite deliberately seek out Sarah Halimi. This wasn’t a sudden crazed outburst. There was calculation; there was malice aforethought. Once inside, he proceeded to beat her and then to throw her out the third-floor window. This was not the act of a brain-addled “temporarily insane” drug addict. There was calculation in gaining entry to her apartment, there was malice aforethought in choosing the victim. It was the act of a Muslim who, in his long-accustomed marijuana high, and his blood boiling because of a family quarrel, had decided to take out his fury on the only Jew he could find, the sole representative in his building of the “Jews” he had been brought up to hate.
It was not Kobili Traoré’s inhalation that day of the cannabis that caused him to murder Sarah Halimi, but his inhalation, since childhood, of the antisemitic passages in the Qur’an.