The suspect in the killing of French Jewish doctor Sarah Halimi will not stand trial because he was high on marijuana and in a “psychotic state” at the time of the alleged murder, a French appeals court ruled on Thursday.
Kobili Traore, a Malian immigrant to France, allegedly beat Halimi for an hour while calling her a “demon” and shouting about “Allah” as police stood outside Halimi’s door. Traore then threw Halimi from her third-story apartment. Halimi’s daughter has said Traore called her a “dirty Jewess” two years before he killed her mother.
French Jews were alarmed that authorities did not initially investigate the killing as a hate crime, and have accused police and mainstream media of sweeping the case under the rug. Antisemitism has risen in France in recent years, and around 40 percent of French Jews refrain from wearing religious symbols or garments in public.
The appeals court retained the designation of the incident as a “hate crime” in its indictment but decided it would not bring Traore to trial because, according to the ruling, he was not aware of his actions after he had smoked marijuana.
Traore “does appear to have voluntarily ended the life of Sarah Halimi,” the court wrote in its ruling. However, the court mandated Traore be hospitalized or be released to a drug rehabilitation program, and has ordered Traore to refrain from visiting the scene of the crime or from contacting the victim’s family.
The decision “marks the advent of a policy that gives impunity to anti-Semitic murder in France,” the French Jewish student association EUJF wrote on Twitter on Thursday.