PARIS - The mother of Ilan Halimi, the 23-year-old Parisian Jew who was abducted, tortured and murdered by a gang in a suburb of the capital, accuses the police of missteps that led to her son's death.
She revealed to Haaretz Sunday that the police told the family to ignore the gang's attempts to contact them for five critical days, after which Ilan was found near death outside the city. She also accuses the police of ignoring the anti-Semitic motivation in the case in order not to alienate Muslims.
"If Ilan hadn't been Jewish, he wouldn't have been murdered," she says.
The family came to France from Morocco 25 years ago. Ruth says that Ilan recently began talking about immigrating to Israel.
"He only wanted to work a little first to save up money for the trip," she said, her voice breaking.
The Jewish community of Paris is still in shock over Halimi's abduction and murder, which began when a gang sent an attractive woman to entice him into a date.
"The last time I saw my son was on Friday, February 20, right before he left for the date," Ruth related. "He wanted to go out with friends but they canceled so he decided to go out with that woman. On Saturday night he called and said he had been kidnapped, and asked us to check our e-mail," she continued.
The family found a scanned image of Ilan, his eyes covered and a gun pointed at his head.
"The message said, '450,000 euros or call the funeral home,'" Yael related.
The family contacted the police, which stationed officers outside their home and started investigating. For three weeks the kidnappers negotiated with Ruth, with Ilan's father, with a former girlfriend and with figures in the Jewish community. They used e-mail and mobile phones, which led the police to them, but they eluded capture.
"Eight days before Ilan was killed," Ruth revealed, "the police tried to arrest one of the suspects in an Internet cafe but they simply were unable to get him." According to Ilan's sister, the suspect warned the others that the police were closing in.
Ruth says the police told the family to stop communicating by phone with the kidnappers in order to force them to use e-mail again. "Five days before Ilan was found, the police told us, 'Don't answer the phone, don't repond to text messages.' We saw dozens of calls and ignored them. On Thursday they found Ilan dead."
Members of Ilan's family blame themselves for listening to the police.
"Maybe if we'd answered the phone Ilan wouldn't have been murdered," they say.
Ilan's family also expresses anger over the police refusal to recognize the anti-Semitic motives behind the crime.
"We told them there were at least three [previous] attempts to abduct young Jews," Ruth says, "but they insisted the motive was purely criminal."
"They're afraid to reignite the confrontation with the Muslims," Halimi's uncle says.
"We know that a few months ago a 16-year-old Jewish girl was kidnapped," the family says, "but her parents decided not to go to the police and paid 100,000 euros in ransom."
The Halimis say they did not have that kind of money.