The kidnap, torture and murder of French Jew: trial begins today
The trial began today of a gang who are accused of the kidnap, torture, and murder of a French Jewish man, a mobile phone salesman who was tortured over three weeks. It is believed that the gang thought 'all Jews are loaded' and his family would be able to pay a huge ransom for him.
Ilan Halimi, 23, was found naked with his head shaved, in handcuffs and covered with burn marks and stab wounds near rail tracks outside Paris in February 2006. In a state of shock and unable to speak, he died en route to hospital. He had been held, tortured and beaten for three weeks, his head wrapped in tape, eyes Sellotaped shut and fed through a straw, while a gang known as the Barbarians demanded a ransom from his family.
After Halimi's death, tens of thousands of people marched to bring attention to his death, and the police started to treat it as a hate crime.
When the leader of the Barbarians gang, Youssouf Fofana, appeared in court today, he arrived shouting 'Allah will be victorious', and if convicted he faces life in prison.
He is on trial along with 26 other defendants, 15 of whom are accused of taking part in the event. The rest are accused of witholding information from the police.
Halimi lived with him mum in the eastern area of Paris and he worked in a mobile phone shop. It is thought that Fofana spotted Halimi one day and asked a female friend to lure him into a trap. This female friend found another girl who agreed to ask Halimi out for a coke and she took him back to what he thought was her home, but he was knocked out and taken to an abandoned flat on the Barbarians estate in Bagneux.
It was there that Halimi was subjected to beatings with broom handles, he was bound, and a ransom was made of 450,000 Euros to his family. The gang called his family numerous times, and they left videos of a crying and beaten Hamili around Paris and told his family where to find them. He was kept for 24 days.
After 10 days, he was taken to a basement where he was burned with cigarettes and slashed with knives. Halimi's father refused to go hand over the ransom money and a few days later his son's body was dumped, but it is thought that Fofana stabbed him, covered him with alcohol, and set him on fire first.
Halimi's sister, Anne-Laure, told Le Parisien: "They attacked Ilan because they thought the Jewish community was rich. That was their explanation in 2006, after the events. It's not acceptable. It's not possible that there are still these types of crimes, acts this disgusting because someone belongs to a particular religion."
The trial is behind closed doors, in a juvenile court, as two of the accused were under 18 at the time of the crime. It is expected to go on for 10 weeks.
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