Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

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18 Kislev 5771 - November 25, 2010 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










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Halimi Trial: Juror Faints at Sight of Torture Videos

By Arnon Yaffeh, Paris

According to leaks during the trial of the 18 defendants suspected of kidnapping, torturing and murdering a young Parisian Jew Ilan Halimi, this time the court president is going into detail rather than trying to whitewash the affair, like in the first trial. The trial is being held in the Jewish suburb of Cartier behind closed doors, but Jewish radio reports regular provide details from the attorneys for both Halimi and the defendants.

During the initial hearing, the judge delved into an inquiry into the antisemitic motives of each of the defendants, both the kidnappers and the torturers. The prosecutor said they could not have tortured the young Jew in such a brutal manner just to extract ransom money, as the defense claims.

The youths cast themselves as simpletons who acted out of a monetary greed, making every effort to shake off the accusation of antisemitism, which gives the crime a different, more serious bent. Yet the data that emerges from the testimonies refutes their arguments. The Lebanese judge who ran the first trial was inclined to be lenient; rather than delving into the details of the horrific crime, she made a point of concealing incriminating pieces of evidence.

At the trial in Cartier the judge gave orders to present evidence — such as Halimi's bloodstains — seized at the scene of the crime itself, a housing complex in the Bagneux suburb. Neighbors testified to hearing terrible screams coming from the basement where he was held. On the judge's orders, police provided video footage the captors took of their victim in various stages of the torture, which were censured previously. One of the jurors fainted at the sight of the images screened before the court.

The prosecuting attorney said the defendants buried their heads in their hands and accused one another. Their lawyers argued that the use of the video was not admissible as evidence. The images show Halimi was tortured to death systematically, and that the gang leader, Youssouf Fofana, was not the only one to inflict the fatal stab wounds.

During the hearings the Criminal Acts Brigade has revealed its ineffectiveness. The members of the police unit did not believe it was an antisemitic kidnapping, and were slow to act. At one point Fofana was in their hands, but they released him without monitoring him. One of the prosecuting attorneys said the police treated the incident like a prank.

Not a single French newspaper has bothered to publish details of the agonizing trial. Jewish radio was the only media entity to report on the fainting of the juror. Nobody wants to rehash the painful affair that shook France five years ago.


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