Halimi - his murder shocked France
Reproduction photo: French police department
Gang leader Fofana
Murder suspect nabbed: Youssouf Fofana, who is suspected of leading the gang that abducted, tortured and murdered French Jew Ilan Halimi, was detained Thursday morning in the Ivory Coast.
French authorities initially denied but later admitted anti-Semitism played a role in the shocking murder.
Fofana, who was born in the Ivory Coast, is a convicted criminal and is believed to have fled France last week. A short while after his arrest, he was handed over to two French investigators who arrived in the Ivory Coast.
Halimi disappeared at the end of January after apparently falling victim to a trap laid by his captors, who used a woman to seduce him. The Jewish man was held in one of Paris' suburbs for three weeks and was tortured while in captivity. The abductors demanded his family pay a huge ransom in exchange for his release.
Halimi died from his wounds on February 13, a short while after being dumped near train tracks outside Paris. Thirteen suspects in the killing were interrogated and six may face severe hate crime charges. Other suspects, including the owners of the apartment where Halimi was held, are still under investigation.
The brutal killing shocked France, with President Jacques Chirac announcing he intends to take part in Halimi's funeral. The funeral procession will leave from Paris' main synagogue. Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin announced he too will attend the ceremony.
Meanwhile, anti-racism French groups have joined an initiative by the Jewish community's umbrella organization to hold a silent march through the streets of Paris this coming Sunday to protest the killing. Political parties announced they will also send representatives to the march.