France: Anti-Semitism 'may be' factor in murder

February 20, 2006 22:45

Anti-Semitism may have played a role in the torture and murder of a young Jewish man who was kidnapped and held for ransom, French authorities said Monday. Authorities found 23-year-old Ilan Halimi naked, handcuffed and covered with burn marks last Monday near railroad tracks in the Essonne region south of Paris. He died on the way to a hospital, officials said. Justice Minister Pascal Clement, speaking to reporters outside an annual meeting of France's main Jewish umbrella group, CRIF, confirmed investigators had alleged "aggravated circumstances of anti-Semitism." One 19-year-old suspect was placed under investigation - a step short of formal charges - and locked up for suspected kidnapping and association with a group intending to kill, judicial officials said on condition of anonymity because the case is ongoing. That suspect, however, was not accused with Halimi's killing. Five other suspects also placed under investigation were expected to appear later Monday.

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