Paris – February 19, 2008 – Youssouf Fofana and 20 others suspected members of his so-called ‘gang of barbarians’ will be tried later this year for the kidnapping, torture and murder of the French Jew Ilan Halimi, in 2006.
Ilan Halimi, a 23-year-old mobile phone salesman, went missing in Paris in January 2006. After being lured by a young woman from the mobile phone shop where he worked, he was held captive for more than three weeks in a Paris suburb. Authorities found him naked, handcuffed and covered with burn marks from cigarettes near railroad tracks south of Paris on February 13, 2006.
He died on the way to the hospital, having bled to death from stab wounds to his neck.
Halimi’s abductors, a dangerous gang called the “Barbarians” and led by Fofana, a 25-year-old petty criminal, had tortured him while demanding a ransom from his family and the Jewish community.
The grisly anti-Semitic crime shocked France and its 600,000-strong Jewish community.
On 26 February 2006, tens of thousands of people protesting racism and anti-Semitism held marches in France in memory of Ilan Halimi.
After two years of investigation, the magistrate came to the conclusion that Fofana ordered a young pretty woman to target Halimi because he was Jewish and because they presumed Jews were wealthy.
Fofana was arrested in March 2006 in the Ivory Coast and extradited to France. After initial reluctance, French authorities had said they believed anti-Semitism was behind the gang’s motives.
The investigation also shows that violence inflicted on Ilan Halimi intensified with the time: the more the ransom moved away, the more the kidnappers beat their victim.
Fofana in person executed his hostage in Sainte-Geneviève-des Bois, a Paris suburb. Ilan Halimi was stabbed twice at the throat, sprayed with petrol and then ignited.
Ilan Halimi was reburied in February 2007 at the Givat Shaul cemetery in Jerusalem, in a new section reserved for French Jews.
© European Jewish Press