Reproduction photo: French police department
Halimi, tortured and left for dead
Reproduction photo: French police department
Photo: AP
Fofana, gets life in prison
Photo: AP
Gang chief jailed for torturing French Jew to death
Youssouf Fofana, head of the 'gang of barbarians' responsible for kidnapping, torturing 23-year-old French Jew Ilan Halimi to death in 2006 sentenced to life imprisonment; 24 other gang members also convicted

The leader of a group that called itself a "gang of barbarians" was sentenced to life imprisonment by a French court on Friday for kidnapping and torturing a young Jewish man for more than three weeks before leaving him to die.


The gang abducted 23-year-old Ilan Halimi in 2006, unsuccessfully tried to extort a ransom for their captive, tortured him until he was close to death and then left him near a train station. He died shortly after he was found.


The case shocked France and turned a spotlight on anti-Semitic violence in the poor, multi-ethnic suburbs around many big French cities.


Amid tight courtroom security, Youssouf Fofana, the gang's leader, who admitted killing Halimi, was sentenced to life imprisonment, the maximum penalty under French law, with a minimum period in jail of 22 years.


Twenty-four other gang members were handed sentences ranging from six months suspended to 18 years in prison. Two were acquitted.


"I am pleased that the Paris court of assizes has recognized the anti-Semitic character of this crime," Francis Szpiner, a lawyer for Halimi's family told reporters outside the courtroom.


"It was because he was Jewish that Ilan Halimi was killed and tortured. Noone can challenge this judicial truth."


However he added that he was disappointed at what he said were lenient sentences handed to some of Fofana's accomplices and asked the Justice Ministry to seek an appeal.  


Aside from the horrific details of the murder itself, the case attracted wide attention because of what it seemed to suggest about racial tensions and anti-Semitism in France.


Many in the Jewish community say that anti-Semitic aggression among French youths of Arab and African origin has been on the rise in recent years, exacerbated by anger over the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.


According to several members of the gang, Halimi was targeted because he was Jewish and was therefore believed to have money.


The trial, which lasted for more than two months, was held largely behind closed doors after clashes at the start of the hearing between radical Jewish militants and witnesses and relatives of some of the accused.


Fofana, a 28 year-old of Ivoirian origin, expressed no remorse and expressed defiance throughout the trial.

On various occasions, he smirked at Hamili's relatives, shouted "Allahu Akbar!" ("God is greatest!) and at one point threw shoes at lawyers.


He gave his date of birth as Feb. 13, 2006, in Sainte-Genevieve-des-Bois, the date and place of Halimi's death and bombarded the magistrates investigating the case with letters full of anti-Semitic insults.


Among the 26 other defendants were young men accused of taking part in the abduction and guarding of the captive, and a girl who is alleged to have lured Halimi into the Paris suburb of Sceaux where he was kidnapped.


פרסום ראשון: 07.11.09, 07:29
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