Paris — France’s justice minister requested an appeal of the prison terms given to gang members who abetted the murder of a French Jew.
Michèle Alliot-Marie said Monday that she asked the public prosecutor’s office to appeal some of Friday’s sentences of members of the so-called “gang of Barbarians” responsible for helping torture 23-year-old Ilan Halimi to death in 2006.
A French court ruled that Halimi’s killing was partly motivated by anti-Semitism, and the leader of the Barbarians gang, Youssouf Fofana, received the maximum punishment of life in prison and 22 years without the possibility of parole.
Other gang members, however, were handed prison terms shorter than those recommended by the prosecuting attorney.
Alliot-Marie asked the city public prosecutor for a retrial of the convicted accomplices.
Jewish organizations, the Halimi family and their lawyer over the weekend criticized the lighter sentences given to Fofana’s accomplices. They planned a Monday protest.
Ruth Halimi, the victim’s mother, told the French daily Le Parisien on Sunday that the shorter sentences “didn’t serve as an example” or show that “anti-Semitism is not just a miscellaneous news item.”
However, Christophe Régnard, president of the judicial union USM, said that Alliot-Marie’s decision to appeal the Halimi verdict was “rather dangerous and worrisome for the future” because, like other leading French judges, he believed it was the result of political pressure, the French news agency AFP reported.
“Politics reasserted itself over justice,” Régnard told AFP. “I find that rather sad.”
He added that appealing a sentence because of a couple years’ difference meant that “one would have to appeal three-fourths of penal cases.”
The Jewish umbrella group CRIF congratulated Alliot-Marie’s call for an appeal.
A “silent” memorial gathering for Ilan Halimi is planned for Monday evening in Paris.