When the French Supreme Court decided that Kobili Traore, the Muslim who murdered 65-year-old Sarah Halimi, could not be subject to a criminal trial because at the time of the killing he was not in his right mind but high on cannabis, there was outrage in France. And there was worry, too, that the two killers of 85-year-old Mireille Knoll, Yasine Matoub and Alex Carrimbacus, might also be judged exempt from criminal prosecution, in similar fashion, because they, too, had been high on alcohol (Matoub) and crack cocaine (Carrimbacus) when Knoll was stabbed eleven times and then set on fire. They need worry no longer. Matoub has been sentenced to life imprisonment (France abolished the death penalty 40 years ago), for the murder, and Carrimbacus to 15 years, found guilty of “aggravated theft.” The “aggravated” part referred to the antisemitic belief of both men that “all Jews are rich,” and Knoll must therefore have been hiding her money. Neither Matoub nor Carrimbacus seem to have questioned why, if Knoll was rich, she lived in a low-income public housing project.
A report on the trial is here: “‘Justice Has Been Done’: Antisemitic Murderer of Holocaust Survivor Mireille Knoll Sentenced to Life Imprisonment by French Court,” by Ben Cohen, Algemeiner, November 13, 2021:
The murder trial that compelled France to confront the violent antisemitism in its midst came to a dramatic close on Wednesday, as a court in Paris sentenced one of the two men accused of the brutal killing of Mireille Knoll, an 85-year-old Holocaust survivor who suffered from Parkinson’s Disease, to life imprisonment.
Following almost ten hours of deliberation by the jury, 32-year-old Yacine Mihoub, a former neighbor of Knoll’s, was found guilty of murder aggravated by antisemitic hatred. The terms of Mihoub’s life sentence require that he serve a minimum of 22 years.
The second accused man, Alex Carrimbacus, Mihoub’s 25-year-old associate, was acquitted on the murder charge but found guilty of aggravated theft. The court sentenced him to a 15-year prison term.
Mihoub’s mother, Zoulikha Khellaf, separately received a three year prison sentence, with two years suspended, for having cleaned the knife used in the murder of Knoll — who was stabbed eleven times by Mihoub before her body was set on fire. Firefighters who arrived at her apartment in a Paris public housing project shortly after her murder on March 23, 2018 discovered her badly burned remains sprawled on the floor.
Throughout the trial, which began on Oct. 26, lawyers for the Knoll family stressed the antisemitic element behind the killing. A police investigation following Knoll’s death established that Mihoub was a regular visitor to Islamist and antisemitic websites, and was already known to the authorities for having praised the Kouachi brothers, Islamist terrorists who carried out the deadly attack against the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in Jan. 2015.
When stabbing Mireille Knoll eleven times and then setting her alight, Mihoub was not in a drunken stupor, “out of his mind,” but very clearly was acting on the hate promoted in the Islamic and antisemitic websites he regularly visited. He had even praised the Kouachi brothers who had murdered the Charlie Hebdo cartoonists. Drunk or not, he was ready to kill a Jew, his hatred encouraged by the websites he visited. And Mireille Knoll was not only a Jew, but “rich” like all of them, even if she did live in a low-income housing project on 900 Euros a month.
Living alone in an apartment in the 11th arrondissement of Paris, Knoll had known Mihoub, who lived with his family in the same building, since his childhood. A petty criminal and alcoholic with previous convictions for drug dealing and violence, Mihoub had received his most recent prison sentence for sexually assaulting a minor in Mireille Knoll’s apartment — the 11-year-old daughter of her caregiver, who gave evidence against Mihoub at the trial on Monday.
Before he was arrested for murder, Mihoub lived by drug-dealing and street robbery, often accompanied by violence toward his victims. He was also a sexual predator and pedophile, who had sexually assaulted a young girl – the daughter of Knoll’s caregiver — right in Knoll’s apartment.
Following that assault, Mihoub had been banned from visiting the building where Knoll lived, but continued to do so. According to his testimony to the court, Mihoub had been visiting Knoll in the hours before her murder, drinking and having what he described as a “good time.” He called Carrimbacus, a drug addict whom he had befriended while in prison, and invited him to join them at Knoll’s apartment, where Mihoub had already consumed nearly an entire bottle of port.
The accounts of the two accused men as to what then transpired in Knoll’s apartment diverged sharply at this point. Mihoub tried to blame the killing on Carrimbacus, claiming that he had left his friend alone with Knoll for five minutes, during which time she was stabbed repeatedly and then robbed. But according to Carrimbacus, it was Mihoub who murdered Knoll during an argument in which he angrily insisted that Jews “have financial means and a good situation,” shouting the words “Allahu Akhbar” (“God is great’) as he plunged the knife into his victim.
Yes, that 85-year-old woman, who suffered from advanced Parkinson’s Disease and was the sole Jew left in the low-income housing project, in Mihoub’s view had “financial means and a good situation,” and he wasn’t going to let Knoll get away with her preposterous claim of being without when he demanded money. He’d punish her all right, by stabbing her, that “rich Jew,” eleven times and then, for good measure, by setting her body on fire. That would show her not to lie.
Prosecuting lawyers had argued throughout the trial that it was Mihoub who bore “sole responsibility for the particularly savage killing of Mrs. Knoll,” an act aggravated by his antisemitic prejudices. During his testimony, Mihoub did little to undermine this depiction. “I think if it had been a ‘Geraldine’ or a ‘Fatima,’ there wouldn’t have been so much noise,” he responded when questioned about antisemitism as a motive for the killing. [Meaning: as a Jew Knoll received special attention, which a Christian “Geraldine” or Muslim “Fatima” would not, Jews! Always the privileged ones!] On another occasion, he challenged the facts of the Holocaust, declaring, “One or two million dead, we don’t know. We can’t prove it. We weren’t there, neither you nor me.”
Mihoub undoubtedly learned his Holocaust denial from the antisemitic websites he so enjoyed visiting.
The court also heard how soon after the killing, Mihoub and Carrimbacus had visited a bar where, in the earshot of witnesses, Mihoub praised Amedy Coulibaly, the Islamist gunman who murdered four Jews at a kosher supermarket in eastern Paris in Jan. 2015, as a “good guy.” When this remark was raised at the trial, Mihoub doubled down, answering: “We are not born as terrorists. He was probably a good person before.”
Mihoub thinks Coulibaly was “probably a good person before” he decided to murder four Jews in cold blood. In the same way, Mihoub thinks of himself as a “good person” before alcohol so muddled his mind in Knoll’s apartment, that he had no idea what he was doing when he stabbed her eleven times and then set her on fire. Uh-huh. Mitoub was never a “good person.” He was always a moral monster, living by drug dealing and violent street crime, a pedophile who sexually assaulted a young girl. His mind was, and is, filled with antisemitic hate he picked up from the Internet and from other Muslims (what mosque did he attend? what did the imam preach in that mosque? shouldn’t the police take an interest?), his admiration reserved for other Muslim murderers of Jews, such as Amedy Coulibaly and the Kouachi brothers .
The hefty sentences handed down in the case of the Knoll murder contrasted acutely with the shock decision of France’s highest court last April to excuse another accused antisemitic murderer from a criminal trial.
The Court of Cassation decided that Kobili Traore — accused of killing 65-year-old Sarah Halimi during an antisemitic assault in her Paris apartment in April 2017 — could not be held as criminally responsible because of his heavy intake of cannabis in the hours before the murder. That decision led France’s main Jewish communal body, Crif, to state that “now in our country, we can torture and kill Jews with impunity.”
In the wake of Wednesday’s verdict, Daniel and Alain Knoll — Mireille Knoll’s two sons — declared themselves “relieved” by the jury’s decision….
Thankfully, this court did not accept the reasoning of the Court of Cassation (France’s highest court) in the case of Kobili Traore, who was held not criminally responsible for Sarah Halimi’s killing because he was in a “psychotic state” from cannabis. The prosecution in that case pointed out that as a longtime user of cannabis, Traore was long inured to its effects, and could not, consequently, have truly been in an out-of-control mental state. The Court of Cassation dismissed that argument. In the case of Mireille Knoll’s killers, there was worry that the same argument might again be accepted – that Mihoub was “out of his mind” because he was drunk, and Carrimbacus “out of his mind” because he was high on crack cocaine – and therefore, they could not be held criminally responsible. The worry turned out to be unfounded. The judges in the Knoll case accepted the argument that both Mihoub and Carrimbaccus were such regular users, Mihoub of alcohol, and Carrimbacus of crack cocaine, that they were able to function and think while under their influence. The “out of their minds” argument was given short shrift.
Earlier on Wednesday, the brothers [the sons of Mireille Knoll] announced that they had written to France’s education minister urging that March 23 — the day of their mother’s death — be named officially as “Mireille Knoll Day.” The letter pointed out that such a commemorative day would also be an opportunity to honor other French victims of political and religious extremism, such as Father Jacques Hamel, a Catholic priest murdered by two Islamists while in his church in July 2016; Lt. Col Arnaud Beltrame, a police officer murdered during a terrorist hostage seizure just one day after Knoll’s killing in March 2018; and Samuel Paty, a Paris secondary school teacher who was decapitated by an Islamist assailant in Oct. 2020….
This proposed “Mireille Knoll Day” is an excellent idea, a way to keep alive, and to reinforce, the collective memory of the French about the many victims in France of Muslim murderers. The list of those victims is long and will grow longer: Ilan Halimi, held prisoner and then tortured over several weeks, until he died of the wounds inflicted on him by a Muslim gang; the Charlie Hebdo cartoonists, headed by the magazine’s editor Stephane Charbonnier (“I prefer to die standing than to live on my knees”); the Jewish shoppers at a kosher supermarket; the 90 people who were murdered by Muslim gunmen at the Bataclan night club; the 40 people who were killed when three suicide bombers struck outside the Stade de France in Saint-Denis, during an international football match; the people sitting at crowded cafés and restaurants in Paris who were sprayed with gunfire; the French priest, Jacques Hamel, who was decapitated at his altar while saying Mass in Normandy; the heroic police officer Lt. Col. Arnaud Beltrame, who volunteered to take the place of a female civilian being held hostage by a Muslim terrorist, and was subsequently murdered by him; Rabbi Jonathan Sandler, and the three little children – his sons Aryeh (six) and Gabriel (3), and Myriam Monsenego (8) – who were murdered with him outside Ozah Hatorah, a Jewish school in Toulouse; the police commander Jean-Baptiste Salvaing and his partner, Jessica Schneider, both of whom were stabbed to death in Magnanville; Sarah Halimi, the 65-year-old retiree beaten to death and then thrown out the window of her third-floor apartment; Samuel Paty, the conscientious schoolteacher who dared to share with his class, as part of a discussion of free speech, a caricature of Muhammad. Let that list of victims – which can be expanded to include atrocities still to come — accompany the observances to be held at schools and government offices, and broadcast on radio and television, of “Mireille Knoll Day.”
Lest we forget, as Kipling wrote – lest we forget!