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Paris on November 3, 2017

It is with great disappointment that the Confederation of Jews in France and Friends of Israel learned of the verdict pronounced this Thursday, November 2 by the judges of the Special Assize Court which condemns Abdelkader Mérah to 20 years' imprisonment, s thus dismissing the requisitions of the Advocate General who rightly demanded life imprisonment.

The Court held the defendant liable for association of criminals in connection with a terrorist enterprise when, surprisingly, and in view of its own motivations, it did not hold complicity in the assassination.

In our judicial system, criminal conviction is the “public statement” responsible for reaffirming the strongest values ​​of society and regenerating the social pact by assigning everyone their rightful place: victims, defendants and representatives of the “French people”!

This “public statement” is pronounced in the name of the “French people”! However, who can believe that this decision of professional magistrates reflects the "intimate conviction" of the vast majority of the French people?

Complaint and pain of the victim, responsibility of the culprit and both symbolic and dissuasive power of the law must be simultaneously recognized by the pronouncement of the sentence. These are the fundamentals of our judicial system!

Do we find these elements in this judgment? We do not think so !

And in view of the reactions in the courtroom and the applause of the followers of Mérah during the pronouncement of the Verdict, one can only doubt the dissuasive aspect of this one.

Moreover, this trial was intended to be that of terrorism, the first of its kind since the emergence of "Islamist terrorism", and consequently, it was intended to deter those who would succumb to the siren song of Jihad; however, we are not convinced that this verdict achieved its goal because not only does this decision leave the victims with a bitter feeling of frustration, but above all it leaves the sad impression that "we did not dare to go as far as end" so as not to upset anyone.

The leniency of this verdict, ambiguous or interpreted as such by the followers of terrorism, could be likely to give a very bad signal to apprentice terrorists, bewitched by a conquering radical Islam and which seems, in their eyes, invincible. 

Consequently, the Confederation of Jews in France and Friends of Israel can only welcome the decision of the General Prosecutor's Office to appeal this decision.

The public prosecutor rightly considered that the special assize court of Paris had not “not drawn all the legal consequences of the facts submitted to it” and one might add by misapplying the Court's own motivations.

Let's hope that the next trial will provide the necessary clarifications and will be up to the challenge.


Richard C. ABITBOL


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