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France

Jewish groups call for mass protest at 'lenient' Barbarians sentences

©

Text by NEWS WIRES

Latest update : 2009-07-13

Jewish organisations have called for a mass gathering outside the justice ministry in Paris to protest what they deem overly lenient court sentences for the so-called "gang of Barbarians" who kidnapped and murdered a Jewish man.

REUTERS - Jewish organisations in France called on Sunday for a mass gathering outside the Justice Ministry to protest against what they called too-lenient court sentencing for a gang of youths for the murder of a Jewish man.

 

The protest on Monday evening could clash with a night of popular revelry in the French capital as there are several big public parties on the eve of July 14 celebrations to mark the French Revolution.

 

On Friday, Youssouf Fofana, the leader of a group that called itself a "gang of barbarians", was sentenced to life imprisonment for kidnapping and torturing a young Jewish man for more than three weeks before leaving him to die.

 

But the groups want stiffer punishments for others they say were involved in the crime and to give a strong signal to stem what they say is a rising tide of anti-Semitism in France.

 

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.

 

Fofana 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 members were handed sentences ranging from six months suspended to 18 years in prison. Two were acquitted.

 
 
Mass protest
 

The French national bureau for vigilance against anti-Semitism (BNVCA) called for a Monday evening mass protest at the Place Vendome in Paris, not far from the presidential palace, where the Justice Ministry is located.

 

The CRIF, the council of Jewish organisations in France, called on Justice Minister Michele Alliot-Marie to instruct her services to appeal against the verdict. The sentencing came on Friday night, after the Sabbath Jewish day of observance had started, and CRIF reacted when it was over on Saturday night.

 

"Dozens of individuals, of which some are already free, have been accomplices to this crime. Even more numerous are the admiring commentators," it said in a statement.

 

BNVCA said the verdicts would further trivialise anti-Semitism and "turn Fofana and his accomplices into heroes for the anti-Jews in the suburban housing estates."

 

On Friday, Halimi family lawyer Francis Szpiner said he was pleased the court recognised the anti-Semitic character of the crime. "It was because he was Jewish that Ilan Halimi was killed and tortured. No one can challenge this judicial truth."

 

 

Date created : 2009-07-12

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