PARIS (JTA) — The head of a gang accused of murdering French Jew Ilan Halimi confessed, but it is still unclear who inflicted the fatal injuries.
“You know very well I was the one who did it,” Youssouf Fofana told a French court May 28, in reference to the kidnapping, torture and murder of Halimi, 23, in 2006.
His statement was reported to journalists by judicial sources, since the press is not allowed access to the trial due to the juvenile status of two suspects at the time of the crime.
Fofana headed a gang called the Barbarians, accused of capturing and torturing Halimi for three weeks until he was found near-death Feb. 13, 2006. Some of the 27 suspects, including Fofana, are also charged with acting out of anti-Semitic motives.
In coming weeks, judges will try to determine which suspects dealt lethal blows to their captive. Fofana said during his court appearance that he covered Halimi with a flammable liquid before lighting him on fire, in addition to stabbing him over the course of the kidnapping, according to news reports. However, the next day a contrasting version of events told by police officers suggested that two other suspects may have been responsible for taking the bound Halimi to a nearby wood, burning him alive, and leaving him for dead, according to a report in the French daily Liberation.
The police testimony was based on Fofana’s initial version of the crime, told to authorities in 2006, according to the Liberation, which gathered its information from anonymous judicial sources.
Halimi was found barely alive, naked and bound, near a southern Paris subway rail line. He died hours later.