Anti-Semitism Alleged in French Torture-Killing

(Los Angeles Times) Sebastian Rotella - An investigative magistrate in France ruled Monday that some of the seven suspects who kidnapped Ilan Halimi, a Jewish store clerk, tortured him for more than three weeks, and killed him last week, would face hate-crime charges in addition to kidnapping and murder charges. France's Jewish community held an angry street protest Sunday and accused politicians of minimizing the crime to avoid increasing tension that lingers from riots by predominantly Muslim youths last year. The kidnappers, who called themselves "The Barbarians," beat, burned, and mutilated Halimi during 24 days of captivity in a cellar in Bagneux, southwest of the capital. The gang taunted Halimi's family and a rabbi with anti-Semitic epithets and recited Koranic verses during telephone calls and e-mails demanding wildly diverging amounts of ransom that never were collected. The kidnappers also sent photos of the victim with a gun to his head, bound and blindfolded, mimicking images of hostages in Iraq. "This gang massacred this young man. They cut off ears and fingers. It was like they had a trophy, a Jewish kid, and everybody abused him," said Sammy Ghozlan, a Jewish leader who is a retired police chief. "If Ilan hadn't been Jewish, he wouldn't have been murdered," Halimi's mother, Ruth, told Ha'aretz.

2006-02-22 00:00:00

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