Youssouf Fofana, the presumed leader of the "gang of barbarians", confessed on Friday to killing French Jew Ilan Halimi in
2006 after detaining and torturing him for three weeks, said a source familiar with the case.
The trial is being held behind closed doors at a juvenile court in Paris because two of the remaining 26 defendants were minors at the time of the murder.
According to the source, who was present at the hearing, Fofana said "Yes, I did it; you know very well that it was me" during the presentation of the findings of two forensic experts who had examined Halimi's body.
AFP further quoted the source as saying that Fofana admitted to pouring a flammable liquid on Halimi and then setting him alight.
The prosecution described 28-year-old Fofana, whose parents came to France from Ivory Coast, as a "perverted megalomaniac" who instructed accomplices to target Jews for ransom kidnappings "because they are loaded with dough (money)".
French authorities found 23-year-old Halimi naked, handcuffed and covered with burn marks near railroad tracks in the Essonne region south of Paris on Feb. 13, 2006.
He died on the way to the hospital and was later buried in Israel.
After the murder, Fofana fled to Ivory Coast, where he made death threats by telephone to Halimi’s father and girlfriend. He was extradited to France on March 4, 2006 and was charged with premeditated murder, demanding ransom, and acts of torture and barbarism. He faces a possible maximum sentence of life imprisonment.
The murder horrified France and came to symbolize a rise in anti-Semitic violence in its poor, multi-ethnic suburbs.
Reuters, AP contributed to the report