(JTA) – Citing the constitutional principle of separation of powers, France’s justice minister said she would not intervene in the trial of a killer whom French Jews said should be charged with a hate crime.
The minister, Nicole Belloubet, said this at the beginning of a meeting she had with the president of the CRIF umbrella group of French Jewish communities, Francis Kalifat and two of his deputies, CRIF said in a statement. The meeting was about the April 4 slaying of Sarah Halimi, a physician an teacher in her sixties. A neighbour, Kobili Traore, hit her and threw her out of the window of her third-story apartment in Paris.
Traore prayed for Allah during the incident, which he has admitted perpetrating but maintains was the result of temporary insanity. He has no record of mental illness. Halimi’s daughter said Traore had called her, the daughter, a “dirty Jew” in the elevator of her mother’s building.
Kalifat and many other leaders of France’s Jewish community said Traore’s behaviour suggests the killing of Halimi was the result of an anti-Semitic hate crime and demanded he be prosecuted accordingly. However, an indictment filed against him did not mention anti-Semitism or any other aggravating element. CRIF have called this a cover up.
Belloubet said she empathizes with Halimi’s relatives and is following the trial closely, but that she would not intervene, the CRIF statement Tuesday said.
On July 16, French President Emmanuel Macron referenced the Halimi affair, after being urged publicly to do so during a speech by Kalifat. Macron said the judiciary should “make clear the truth” in the case “despite the murderer’s denials.”