KEY POINTS

  • Anti-racism groups say that the Court of Cassation’s ruling puts Jews at risk
  • People in large numbers gathered outside the French embassy in Tel Aviv to protest
  • They waved French and Israeli flags and placards with slogans like “Shame on France”

Thousands of people in Paris and cities across France came out on the streets on Sunday to protest against France’s highest court ruling that the man who killed 65-year-old Jewish woman Sarah Halimi in 2017 was not “criminally responsible” for the incident and therefore could not go on trial. The verdict has sparked outrage among the French and international Jewish communities.

Anti-racism groups say that the Court of Cassation’s ruling puts Jews at risk.

Halimi, an Orthodox Jewish woman, was pushed out of the window of her Paris flat by her neighbor Kobili Traoré on April 4, 2017. The man allegedly shouted "Allahu Akbar" ("God is great" in Arabic) during the incident.

On Sunday, thousands of people flooded Trocadero Plaza in Paris to denounce the court's decision to not try Halimi’s murderer. Demonstrations also took place in Marseille, Lyon, Strasbourg, Bordeaux, and elsewhere.

Robert Ejnes, the executive director of CRIF, a French Jewish umbrella group, was in attendance at Trocadero Plaza to support the victim’s relatives. He called the ruling a “totally unfair decision,” Al Jazeera reported. Former First Lady Carla Bruni and Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo were also seen at the rally. Hidalgo said the city would soon name a street in Halimi’s memory.

As per the Court of Cassation’s ruling issued this month, though there was enough evidence to show the act had anti-Semitic motives, a person who committed a crime while in a “delirious state” cannot be sent to trial – even if that state was caused by the habitual use of illegal drugs, France 24 reported.

According to French law, people cannot be held criminally responsible for crimes committed while fully losing their judgment or self-control due to a psychiatric disorder.

Traoré, a heavy cannabis smoker, has been in a psychiatric hospital since the Jew woman’s death. As per the ruling by the Court of Cassation, he will not face any trial.

French President Emmanuel Macron had earlier expressed support for the victim’s family and called for a change in French law. He had told Le Figaro newspaper in an interview that deciding to take narcotics and then 'going mad" should not remove a person’s criminal responsibility.

Justice Minister Eric Dupond-Moretti in a tweet on Sunday said he will present a bill at the end of May to plug a legal vacuum in French law regarding the consequences of the voluntary use of drugs.

Following the verdict, lawyers representing Halimi's family said they intend to refer the case to the European Court of Human Rights.

Hundreds of people in Israel gathered outside the French embassy in Tel Aviv, waving French and Israeli flags and placards with slogans such as “Shame on France.”

IMAGES Representatives of France's Jewish community lay wreaths in memory of Sarah Halimi who was killed in her Paris apartment in 2017. Several "rallies of anger" are due to take place in the capital and other cities in France to challenge the lack of tr IMAGES Representatives of France's Jewish community lay wreaths in memory of Sarah Halimi who was killed in her Paris apartment in 2017. Several "rallies of anger" are due to take place in the capital and other cities in France to challenge the lack of trial after her murder. Photo: AFPTV / Myriam ADAM