Paris prosecutor to retry Halimi kidnappers

PARIS (JTA) – Fourteen of 27 gang members convicted of abetting the murder of a French Jew will be retried.

Paris public prosecutors agreed to appeal the July 10 verdict against 14 members of a gang convicted of kidnapping Ilan Halimi and torturing the 23-year-old Jewish man to the point of death in 2006, according to French reports.

The announcement was made following Monday’s request for an appeal by French Justice Minister Michele Alliot-Marie.

In line with Alliot-Marie’s wishes, only those verdicts concerning gang members who received prison terms that were a few years shorter than recommended by the prosecutor will be appealed.

Gang leader Youssouf Fofana received the maximum punishment of life in prison and will not be retried.

Alliot-Marie’s push for an appeal has stirred debate because some French judges have said she acted out of political pressure from private interests — in this case Jewish organizations and the Halimi family, who called for an appeal over the weekend.

The French daily le Monde wrote Tuesday that past, “frequent” meetings and “the relationship between the new justice minister and Jewish leaders,” “facilitated” exchanges between the two on the Halimi verdict.

 “A meeting was even planned for Monday afternoon,” Stephanie Le Bars and Pascale Robert-Diard wrote in Le Monde.

The Halimi family and Jewish organizations have argued that the shorter prison terms did not match the severity of the crime, particularly since the French court ruled that the motive contained an anti-Semitic component.

Some 250 people gathered near the justice minister’s office on Monday night in Paris in memory of Halimi, the French news agency AFP reported.

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