The French police arrested 13 people on suspicion of kidnapping, torturing and murdering Ilan Halimi, a 23-year-old Parisian Jew.
Halimi was found on Monday tied to a tree, naked and wounded, with burns covering all parts of his body. He died on the way to the hospital.
Police officials said that the abduction and murder were apparently not motivated by anti-Semitism, but added that they have not yet discovered what led the group to commit the acts.
The affair, which stunned France's Jewish community, began about a month ago, when a good-looking young woman entered a cellular phone store in Paris, where Halimi worked, and began talking to him.
The two exchanged telephone numbers, and after speaking on the phone a number of times, set a meeting in a suburb south of Paris. Halimi left for the meeting on January 20, and has been missing ever since.
Later, the kidnappers contacted Halimi's family members and asked them for a ransom of Euro 400,000 (about USD 476,239). The family, however, was unable to collect such a large amount of money, and the kidnappers thus lowered their demand to Euro 5,000 (5,953). Then, a week and a half ago, they stopped contacting the family.
Failed abduction attempts
The police, who had launched a secret investigation into the affair, were unable to locate the kidnappers, who had used stolen cellular phones and were photographed wearing masks.
The investigation did reveal that the kidnappers had already attempted to execute similar abductions at least four times before, but had failed for various reasons.
Over the weekend, French newspapers revealed that 12 out of the 13 suspects arrested, aged 17 to 32, were captured in the suburb south of Paris where Halimi was tortured.
Among the detainees was also the young woman, whose photo was published in the newspapers as the seducing girl. The girl claimed that she was indeed asked to seduce a number of young men, but was unaware of the act's purpose.
The last suspect in the affair was arrested in Belgium.
The investigation into the affair was handed to the Parisian police's severe crimes unit, and it is being personally supervised by Paris' public prosecutor.
Despite the police's doubts, Halimi's family believes that the act was motivated by anti-Semitism.
“We think there is anti-Semitism in this affair,” Rafi, Ilan’s brother-in-law, told the European Jewish Press. ”First because the killers tried to kidnap at least two other Jews, and secondly because of what they said on the phone."
”When we said we didn’t have Euro 500,000 to give them, they answered we should go to the synagogue and get it,” Rafi stressed.
“They also recited verses from the Koran. We didn’t know what they were saying but the police told us," he said.