On April 4, 2017, Kobili Traore, a Mali-born Parisian, broke into the apartment of his neighbor, a sixty-five-year-old Jewish widow named Sarah Halimi, and brutally murdered her. During the attack he yelled “Allahu Akbar” and “Satan”; on previous occasions he had shouted anti-Semitic slurs at Halimi and her relatives. A French court is now evaluating a psychiatric report—commissioned by the investigating judge in the case—according to which Traore was so intoxicated from cannabis that he can’t be held criminally responsible. Ben Cohen comments:
There is, of course, a well-documented connection between the use of cannabis and episodes of psychotic violence, but these examples invariably involve users with preexisting mental-health conditions. No one has indicated that Traore suffers from schizophrenia or a related condition; the argument being entertained by the investigating judge, therefore, rests on the claim that cannabis use alone robbed Traore of his “discernment.” . . .
The second and third psychiatrists who assessed Traore believe this to be true; the first psychiatrist, Daniel Zagury, manifestly did not, and had no doubt that the killer’s mind was sound enough for him to stand trial for murder aggravated by anti-Semitic prejudice toward his victim. . . .
There should be no mistaking . . . that a final decision that goes against putting Traore on trial, opting instead for some kind of medical supervision instead, will be an irremovable stain on France’s reputation, . . . denying basic justice to the victim of a hate crime that was sickening even by current French standards of anti-Semitism and racism. It means that France, as a nation, will be denied a further opportunity to learn how anti-Semitic beliefs can transition into anti-Semitic violence—since previous and subsequent episodes in recent memory, such as the kidnapping and murder of Ilan Halimi (no relation) in 2006, or the terrorist shooting of three small children and a teacher at a Jewish school in Toulouse in 2012, or the murder of eighty-five-year-old Holocaust survivor Mireille Knoll exactly one year ago, have seemingly failed to teach the French public that lesson.