France: anger over decision on murder of Jewish woman

Around 25,000 people gathered in Paris and across France to protest the decision by the country's highest court, the Court of Cassation, not to put a man accused of murdering his Jewish neighbour on trial, on the grounds that he was in the grips of a delusional fit at the time of the attack due to alcohol and cannabis consumption, and not in control of his actions. He will spend at least 20 years in a psychiatric clinic instead. Europe's press sympathises with the protests.

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Deutsche Welle (RO) /

Marijuana as a guarantee of impunity

Is this a licence to murder Jews? asks Petre Iancu of the Romanian service of Deutsche Welle:

“One can conclude that it's enough to refer to one's marijuana consumption to get away with murdering Jews without having to answer to the law, be put on trial or go to prison. The fact that the French Court of Cassation has also upheld this scandalous verdict is a problem for France and, of course, for all of Europe. ... As the lawyer for the Halimi family, Francis Szpiner, pointed out, when a driver kills a pedestrian, intoxication tends to lead to harsher rather than milder punishment.”

Le Point (FR) /

A betrayal of our trust

Arié Bensemhoun, head of the French office of NGO Elnet, which works to strengthen relations between European countries and Israel, welcomes the protest against the verdict in Le Point:

“This moral and judicial failure seems to awaken the conscience of our non-Jewish fellow citizens. ... The Jews are no longer alone. France is alone, facing its denials, its betrayals of values, its cowardly positions, its concessions and its renunciations. It faces the challenge of rebuilding itself to remain a beacon among nations. ... The France that today refuses to condemn the murderer of Sarah Halimi is betraying our trust as supporters of the Republic. It is plunging us into deep incomprehension and intensifying the painful feelings of abandonment.”

Frankfurter Rundschau (DE) /

Processing of this crime is a matter for the public

The protesters are not concerned about punishment or atonement, Paris correspondent Stefan Brändle writes in the Frankfurter Rundschau:

“The attacker's disturbed personality shows that in certain cases the proper legal confrontation with the centuries-old and - yes - demonic motive of anti-Semitism belongs more in a psychiatric ward than in a courtroom. ... It's only understandable that French Jews are demanding a trial: they want the social context of the crime to be dealt with in court. They want to show that such a crime, as inexplicable as it may be, has a perfectly explainable background. ... However, the processing of this crime should not be undertaken with paragraphs or psychiatric opinions. It belongs to the public, the media and politics.”