Three years ago, Ilan Halimi was found unconscious near railroad tracks in Paris. Halimi was naked, gagged and handcuffed; his body showed tremendous signs of torture. The New Yorker later reported:
The police traced the crime to a group that became known as “the gang of Barbarians” allegedly led by Youssouf Fofana, the twenty-five-year-old son of African immigrants, and determined that Halimi had been abducted because he was Jewish. Eighteen people were arrested in France, and after a manhunt that led to the Ivory Coast, Fofana was taken into custody. Fofana denied killing Halimi, and that his actions were motivated by race, but other detainees told the police that “Jews have money,” and that they believed that Halimi’s parents, a working-class couple, or:the rabb” would pay half a million dollars for Halimi’s release.
The case is fraught with religious overtones and socioeconomic undertones. And this week, the long-awaited trial of Fofana and 26 others implicated in Halimi’s murder will begin. Most of the men and women face lesser charges than Fofana, who is accused of murder and conspiracy.
The trial will be closed to the public, but its outcome, regarding a case that rocked France and Jews around the world, will be closely followed.