27 (check number!) members of a gang called the Barbarians are on trial in Paris today for murdering 23-year-old Ilan Halimi, a Jewish mobile phone salesman.
He was held for ransom for three weeks on a council estate in the Parisian suburb of Bagneaux.
Youssouf Fofana, the leader of the gang, is on trial, along with the other accomplices. He reportedly told them a Jew was targeted because the Jewish community had more money.
Youssouf Fofana is the man at the heart of this court case. This French-born son of Ivorian immigrants is the only defendant facing a life sentence. That's if he is indeed convicted of murdering 23-year-old Ilan Halimi. In 2006, the Jewish mobile phone salesman was kidnapped and tortured for 24 days. In this housing estate in a Paris suburb, Fofana recruited accomplices among apathetic young people.
He was the supposed leader of the self-styled Barbarians gang.
SOT Philippe Missamou
"Fofana has neither the charisma nor the intellect or morals to be a gang leader. He has the thinking of a young man from a French suburban housing estate. He thought the easiest way to get rich was to carry out kidnappings."
Prosecutors describe 28-year-old Fofana as a "perverted megalomaniac". They say he instructed his accomplices to target Jews for ransom kidnappings.The reason: because he said they were rich.
The prosecution accuses Fofana of antisemitism.
"Fofana was motivated by money but also by antisemitism. It was based on the old cliché that Jews have money. So if you kidnap a Jew, they will pay up."
Fofana was extradited back to France from Ivory Coast. A big police operation for a story that was headline news in France at the time.