A Paris court has convicted Youssouf Fofana for the 2006 kidnapping, torture and murder of a young French Jew and sentenced him to life in prison – a verdict that drew a thumbs-up sign from the head of the self-styled “gang of barbarians.” Twenty-four others, including eight women, also were found guilty in the kidnapping, torture and murder of Ilan Halimi, who was 23 years old. The case brought comparisons to the Dreyfus case and involved charges of racial and religious hatred.
Mr. Halimi, held captive for more than three weeks, was found 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. The horrific death revived worries in France about lingering anti-Semitism, considered an aggravating circumstance in this case, and led to deep anxiety in France’s Jewish community, the largest in western Europe.
Fofana describes himself as a hard-line salafist Islamist. Halimi’s mother, Ruth Halimi, said that if her son “had not been Jewish, he would not have been murdered.” She accused the police of being slow to accept the anti-Semitic nature of the crime, for fear of offending Muslims.