eight people died in a stampede. But she got stuck in heavy traffic on her way, and could not make it in time for kickoff. So she ducked into a bar and watched the match there.

Cameroon lost, 3-1, on penalty kicks. “It was still worth it because I could watch with excited fans,” she said.

And she screamed and shouted a lot.

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Analysis: W. Africa coups show limits of diplomacy, opening door to new players

  • Coups across West Africa show limits of diplomatic pressure
  • Poverty and Islamist violence mean people are losing patience
  • Regional bloc ECOWAS’ sanctions on Mali have not hurt junta yet
  • In Burkina Faso and beyond, French influence waning
  • Others stepping into vacuum, including Russia

DAKAR, Jan 26 (Reuters) – Earlier this month, West African countries slapped tough economic sanctions on Mali to punish coup leaders seeking to extend their hold on power, and to halt a run of military takeovers that have beset the region since 2020.

Burkina Faso’s military did not get the message. On Monday, two weeks after the 15-member Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) announced the sanctions, the Burkinabe army arrested President Roch Kabore and seized power.

As the international community condemned West Africa’s fourth coup in 18 months, crowds in the capital Ouagadougou cheered the Burkinabe army – a contrast to anti-coup protests that erupted when the military briefly seized power in 2015.

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The reaction echoed scenes in Mali and Guinea, whose coup leaders received warm welcomes at home.

West African nations and international allies have struggled to mount an effective response, as populations lose faith in governments many see as manipulating the democratic process and unable to alleviate poverty or repel Islamist militant violence.

The problems pre-date recent coups. Unlike its vocal opposition to military takeovers, ECOWAS remained silent as sitting presidents maintained their grip on power by extending terms under what critics call “constitutional coups”.

“Today, ECOWAS is not a credible institution to people,” said Abdoulaye Barry, a Burkinabe researcher at the United Nations’ University for Peace.

“As long as they are not going to offer adequate responses to the governance deficit, coups are going to multiply.”

An ECOWAS spokesperson was not available to comment on its track record.

Other countries, including France and European allies, have maintained a military presence in the region, and partner local armed forces to fight groups like al Qaeda and Islamic State, meaning military support continues despite criticism of coups.

France in particular has deployed thousands of troops to West Africa’s Sahel region over the past decade, but security has progressively deteriorated, fuelling anti-French sentiment.

OPENING FOR RUSSIA?

The sanctions and international condemnations have arguably bolstered coup leaders’ standing at home.

Mali’s military-led transitional government, which took power in an August 2020 coup, went back on a commitment to hold elections next month. Instead, it proposed to rule for another four years.

ECOWAS’ sanctions included locking Mali out of regional financial markets and closing its borders, potentially devastating blows for the impoverished landlocked country.

Although the pain caused by rising food prices and shortages could yet turn people against the authorities, forcing the junta to the negotiating table, for now sanctions appear to be having the opposite effect.

Protests against the sanctions, which even some critics of the junta criticise as draconian, drew tens of thousands into the streets. People held signs that read: “Down with ECOWAS” and “Down with France”.

Coup leaders have found new allies. As tensions with France rose, Mali’s interim government struck a deal with Russia to send in military trainers.

France and its Western allies say many of these trainers are mercenaries from a private military contractor under European Union sanctions. Malian authorities deny this.

“Coalitions outside the traditional U.N. structures are emerging and staking a claim to security and economic partnerships in Africa,” a West African diplomat said, citing Russia, China, Turkey and the Gulf States.

On Tuesday, Alexander Ivanov, the official representative of Russian military trainers in Central African Republic, issued a statement on the situation in Burkina Faso.

“I believe that if Russian instructors are invited to train the Burkina Faso army, they will be able to do so effectively,” Ivanov said.

The new Burkinabe authorities have not commented on any potential Russian deployment. At the pro-coup rally on Tuesday, some in the crowd held Russian flags.

Alliances closer to home may also undermine attempts to punish military takeovers.

When ECOWAS ordered member states to close borders with Mali, Guinea said it would not comply, allowing continued access to the port of Conakry. The junta in Burkina Faso, which also borders Mali, has not yet said if it will do the same.

ROOT CAUSES

ECOWAS, founded in 1975 to promote economic integration in post-colonial West Africa, can still inflict pain through sanctions.

Nearly 30% of Mali’s trade is with ECOWAS member states, according to U.N. data, and food prices are starting to rise in the capital Bamako, residents say.

But diplomats and analysts said the influence of ECOWAS and foreign powers traditionally active in the region has been hampered by eroding credibility.

Some traced that back to 2015, when the bloc came close to banning presidential third terms after Burkina Faso’s veteran leader Blaise Compaore was ousted the previous year in an uprising sparked by his efforts to extend his time in office.

Such a move would have been a first for an African regional body, but it never happened.

ECOWAS was silent in 2020 as the presidents of Guinea and Ivory Coast won third terms after altering constitutions that barred them from running again.

“ECOWAS needs to address the root causes of the recent coups … including the situations where governments manipulate the constitutions to remain in power,” said Said Djinnit, the former commissioner for peace and security at the African Union and top U.N. diplomat in West Africa.

Anger over Guinean President Alpha Conde’s third term was one of the reasons the military cited when it overthrew him last September.

Guinea’s ruling junta has promised to oversee a transition back to democracy but has declined to set a date for elections. ECOWAS has imposed targeted sanctions against junta members and their families.

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Reporting by Aaron Ross in Dakar and David Lewis in Nairobi; Editing by Edward McAllister and Mike Collett-White

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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Military Ousts Civilian Leaders in Mali

Military officials in Mali ousted the country’s interim civilian leaders on Tuesday, setting up a new crisis for the Western African nation, just nine months after the previous president was forced out in a military coup.

The leaders — Bah N’Daou, the president, and Moctar Ouane, the prime minister — were appointed last year to lead a transitional government to prepare for new elections. They were both detained by the military on Monday and taken to a base outside the capital, Bamako. On Tuesday, they were officially stripped of their duties, the military said.

The removal of the civilian leaders followed a government reshuffle announced by Mr. Ouane on Monday that sidelined some officers who had taken part in the coup that ousted the former president, Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta, in August. It also comes as workers in important sectors of the economy, including bankers and civil servants, have been on strike since last week after failed salary negotiations with the previous government.

Col. Assimi Goïta, who led the coup and had been serving as a vice president to Mr. N’Daou, said on Tuesday in a statement read on public television by one of his advisers that Mr. N’Daou and Mr. Ouane had sought to “violate” the transition to a new civilian government.

weeks of protests against the government.

“attempted coup” and calling for the leaders’ release.

Nine days after the coup in August, Mr. Keïta, the former president, was released from the same military base where Mr. N’Daou and Mr. Ouane were taken and driven back to his home.

A delegation from Ecowas, the regional organization of West African states that negotiated the appointment of the transitional leaders last year, was headed to Bamako on Tuesday, according to the joint statement, which was released before the announcement of the ouster.

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Gemstone traders in Thailand are hit hard as the country battles a virus surge.

As a resurgent coronavirus threatens countries across Southeast Asia, the health authorities in Thailand are working to contain an outbreak that is ripping through the tight-knit community of gemstone traders in the southeastern reaches of the country near the border with Cambodia.

The town of Chanthaburi — which has a long history as a center of the country’s business in rubies, sapphires and other stones — is at the heart of the outbreak, which has infected at least 166 in the community of traders from Africa who work in the country. At least 103 Thais in the town have also tested positive as a result of the latest outbreak, officials reported.

The cluster of cases comes as Thailand battles its worst outbreak since the pandemic began. For nearly three weeks, the country has averaged about 2,000 new cases a day — more than double its worst peak in January. The largest outbreak has been reported in Bangkok, which is under a partial lockdown.

On Wednesday, the government reported 34 deaths, a record, and 1,983 cases. One of those who died was from Finland.

Thailand was among the most effective countries last year in controlling the virus, but it has been slow to contain outbreaks this year and has lagged behind other countries in procuring vaccines.

Now, with the latest surge in cases, it is scrambling to obtain shots and to develop a mass inoculation program.

Some officials have declared that foreigners will not be vaccinated despite earlier outbreaks among migrant workers from Myanmar and now among the African gemstone traders. Other officials have said that Thailand will inoculate foreigners but have not provided specifics.

Thailand, which has a population of about 70 million, is home to more than two million foreigners who live in the country legally. More than two million more are believed to live in the country illegally.

Over the years, the gem business has attracted traders from several predominantly Muslim countries in Africa, including Gambia, Guinea and Mali. Many of them have settled in Thailand, married Thai wives and import gemstones from Africa.

Sankung Kongeh, a trader from Gambia, said members of the African community gathered daily at their offices and at the market, where they work, talk and eat together. During Ramadan, which began April 12, many also have prayed together, he said.

It is precisely that kind of close social contact that has fueled outbreaks around the world, but Mr. Kongeh discounted the group prayers as a significant risk.

“The possibility of the Covid spread has nothing to do with praying together,” said Mr. Kongeh, who recently tested negative. “It’s during the time hanging out at the office where we have the AC on, the door closed, and we chat with each other, drinking hot tea. There could be 10 or 12 of us sitting together. We don’t talk to each other during prayer.”

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In Video, French Reporter Who Vanished in Mali Says He Was Kidnapped

PARIS — A French journalist who went missing in Mali last month said in a video that circulated Wednesday on social media, but that could not be independently verified, that he had been kidnapped by a jihadist group operating in the region as he appealed for help from the authorities in France.

The 21-second clip appears to show Olivier Dubois, a French journalist based in Mali who disappeared there in early April, sitting cross-legged in what seems to be a tent.

After identifying himself, Mr. Dubois says in the video that he was kidnapped on April 8 in Gao, a town in central Mali, by a local Islamist group affiliated with Al Qaeda that is known as JSIM, an acronym for Group to Support Islam and Muslims.

“I am speaking to my family, to my friends and to the French authorities so that they do everything that is in their power to free me,” Mr. Dubois says in the video.

statement.

But the release of the video appeared to force the group and the French authorities to issue their first public comments on Mr. Dubois’ disappearance.

said in an article on Wednesday that in late March he had pitched the newspaper a face-to-face interview with a JSIM midlevel lieutenant in Gao, Abdallah Ag Albakaye.

“Olivier has solid contacts in the jihadist sphere, he has known some of them for years,” Libération wrote. “They were vouching for his safety.”

Libération turned down the pitch because of the risks involved, the newspaper wrote. Still, Mr. Dubois flew from Bamako to Gao. There, he spent several hours at his hotel and left for lunch. But two days later, he did not show up for his return flight to Bamako and was reported missing by the French Embassy in Mali, Libération said.

“The report of this reporter’s abduction is another cruel blow to journalism in the Sahel,” Arnaud Froger, the head of Reporters Without Borders’ Africa desk, said in a statement, referring to the sub-Saharan region that stretches from Senegal to Sudan.

Armed groups operating in Mali and other countries in the Sahel have made it increasingly difficult for journalists to report from the region. Last month, two Spanish journalists making a documentary about anti-poaching efforts and an Irish ranger were kidnapped and killed in Burkina Faso.

Central and northern Mali have become especially dangerous since 2013, when France sent its forces into the West African country, a former French colony, after armed Islamists took control of its northern cities.

French and Malian forces have struggled to stop a range of extremist groups, some of them affiliated with Al Qaeda or the Islamic State, that have spread violence across the border area of Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger and elsewhere in the region.

In 2013, two French journalists working for Radio France Internationale, Ghislaine Dupont and Claude Verlon, were killed by Islamist insurgents in Mali, in circumstances that have remained murky to this day.

Mali has undergone severe institutional instability over the past year. After months of ballooning protests over corruption, bloodshed, and election interference, a coup in August toppled the president, Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta, and replaced him with Bah N’Daou, a retired colonel and former defense minister.

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Two Spanish Journalists Are Killed in Burkina Faso

At least two European journalists were killed in the Western African nation of Burkina Faso after being kidnapped on Monday, according to the Spanish authorities, amid reports that a third was also abducted and killed.

Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez of Spain on Tuesday confirmed the deaths of two Spanish journalists, whom he identified on Twitter as David Beriain and Roberto Fraile. Both were from northern Spain and were working on a documentary about anti-poaching efforts in Burkina Faso, Spain’s foreign minister, Arancha González Laya, said earlier at a news conference.

Ms. González paid respect to the families and to journalists.

“As the situation of these two journalists reminds us, your profession is one of great risk in so many areas around the world,” she told reporters.

The two journalists were part of a group of 40 people who were ambushed on Monday in a nature reserve in southern Burkina Faso near the border with Benin, Ms. González said. The fate of the others in the group was unclear, but Christophe Deloire, the secretary general of Reporters Without Borders, said that a third journalist had been killed.

said in a statement. Three soldiers were injured and a fourth was abducted, the statement said.

In recent years, Burkina Faso has faced increasing violence from armed groups, several of them linked to the Islamic State and Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb.

Attackers on motorbikes have stormed countless villages and hamlets, forcing villagers to convert to Islam and sometimes killing them even when they do. Others have ambushed military patrols and killed members of the armed forces, and hundreds of schools have been forced to close because of the violence.

But the violence has also come from the military itself, which has killed growing numbers of civilians, sometimes in proportions similar to those killed by Islamic insurgents, according to rights groups and analysts.

In July, the bodies of at least 180 men thought to have been killed by security forces in the preceding eight months were found in the country, according to witnesses’ testimonies collected by human rights researchers.

Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project, a nonprofit that tracks political violence and protests.

Last year was also the deadliest for militant Islamist violence in the region, according to the Africa Center for Strategic Studies, a U.S. Defense Department research institution. About 4,250 people were killed, according to the think tank — a 60 percent increase over 2019 — with the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara linked to more than half of the deaths.

In Burkina Faso, violence has fueled a fast-growing displacement crisis, with more than one million people fleeing their homes since 2019, according to the United Nations’ humanitarian affairs body. Three million people are in need of humanitarian assistance, in a country of 20 million population.

Several foreigners have also been taken hostage in recent years. In 2016, an Australian couple were kidnapped in the north of the country on the day that armed fighters killed dozens of people in the capital, Ouagadougou. In 2018, a Canadian woman and an Italian man were abducted in the country, not released until 15 months later in neighboring Mali. In 2019, a Spanish Catholic missionary was killed, and a few months later two French soldiers were killed in a raid to rescue four hostages — two Frenchmen, an American and a South Korean citizen.

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Idriss Déby Dies at 68; Poor Herder’s Son Became Chad’s Longtime Autocrat

NAIROBI, Kenya — It was a point of pride for Idriss Déby, the leader of Chad, a vast African country at the crossroads of numerous conflicts, that he was willing to throw himself to the front line of the many battles he fought.

Mr. Déby, a poor herder’s son who rose through the Chadian military to become one of Africa’s most enduring and feared leaders, was killed as he commanded his troops during what the military said was one such battle. His death, at age 68, was announced on Tuesday.

He first distinguished himself more than three decades ago by commanding soldiers to victory against Libyan-backed rebels in the Tibesti Mountains, in the far north of Chad. After seizing power in 1990, he faced down regular uprisings in an impoverished country that often seemed to boil with revolt.

And he embraced elections that he held every five years, always winning — even if those victories were strengthened by his tight grip on Chad’s repressive security forces and its considerable oil revenue.

going to the polls for a presidential election. By last weekend, as fighting intensified, Mr. Déby had flown to northern Chad to command his forces, the army said.

On Tuesday, the army announced that the president had been killed on the battlefield, and that his 37-year-old son, Mahamat, was taking over as the interim head of state. Just a day before, provisional election results showed that Mr. Déby had won almost 80 percent of the vote.

In the capital, Ndjamena, residents scrambled for the safety of their homes, gripped by uncertainty over what might come after the abrupt departure of the man who had led them for three decades.

Mr. Déby was born in 1952, the son of a herder who scraped a living from the harsh deserts of northern Chad. After enrolling in the military, he left in the 1970s for training in France, where he qualified as a pilot, and returned to Chad in 1979 to find the country torn between rival warlords.

Mr. Déby allied with one of them, Hissène Habré, who in 1982 became president and appointed him as his army chief.

an attempted coup in 2006.

Mr. Déby had testy relations with his neighbor, President Omar Hassan al-Bashir of Sudan — another wily autocrat whom Mr. Déby accused of having fomented unrest inside Chad. Mr. Déby allowed journalists and aid workers to pass through Chad into the Sudanese region of Darfur, where they documented abuses that later led the International Criminal Court to indict Mr. Bashir for war crimes including genocide.

Mr. Déby’s rule might have been one of prosperity for Chadians. The country’s vast deserts cover untapped reserves of uranium, as well as oil that is currently pumped at a rate of 130,000 barrels a day, generating much of Chad’s revenue.

But under Mr. Déby, Chad frequently featured prominently in lists of the world’s poorest and most corrupt countries. The adult literacy rate is 31.8 percent; life expectancy is 54 years; and critics accused Mr. Déby of squandering the oil wealth by pouring it into the military, which he has used to repress his critics.

In 2017 the U.S. Justice Department accused Mr. Déby of having accepted a $2 million bribe from a Chinese company in exchange for oil rights in Chad.

Still, such failings were largely overlooked by Western countries that embraced Mr. Déby as an indispensable ally in a dangerous part of the world. Mr. Déby supported a French military operation against Islamist militants in neighboring Mali in 2013, and a year later he helped to end violent turmoil in the Central African Republic.

His army is one of the best trained and equipped in the semi-arid belt of Africa known as the Sahel, and it has played host to military exercises conducted by the United States.

In an email, Col. Christopher Karns, a spokesman for the Pentagon’s Africa Command, said Chad was a major partner in an effort involving several countries in the Lake Chad basin to fight Boko Haram.

France, for its part, did its utmost to protect Mr. Déby himself, deploying troops to Chad in 2008 and 2019 to defeat rebels who tried to unseat him.

After three decades in power, Mr. Déby was aiming for a fourth. In 2018, Chad’s parliament revised the Constitution to allow him to stay in office until 2033. Analysts say his sudden death will likely throw Chad’s politics into disarray.

Some were skeptical that his son Mahamat could hold on for long in the face of challenges from rivals in the security establishment or disaffected members of his own Zaghawa ethnic group, where some had bristled at the rise of Mr. Déby’s family.

“The prospects of more splits within the military is significant,” said Judd Devermont, director of the Africa program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. Others speculated that France would struggle to find a new partner in a country that French leaders long considered their African backyard.

“The French have been so associated with Déby — not just propping him up but also eliminating his enemies on his behalf — that they will have a hard time establishing any credibility with a successor regime that doesn’t have the last name Déby and isn’t a Zaghawa,” said Cameron Hudson, an Africa expert at the Atlantic Council.

Eric Schmitt contributed reporting from Washington.

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After a Tragedy at Sea, a Wrecked Ship Becomes a Powerful Symbol in Italy

ROME — To most eyes, the scruffy, sun-faded ship that left Venice for Sicily last week might have looked like a junkyard-ready wreck.

Instead, as the ship embarked upon what may be its final voyage, via barge and tugboat, and arrived in Sicily on Tuesday, others were hoping it would become a monument to the devastating toll exacted by the trafficking of people across the Mediterranean from Africa to Europe by unscrupulous operators.

The ship, the relic of the deadliest wreck in the Mediterranean in living memory, is a symbol of contemporary migration in Europe that has become part of its cultural heritage, said Maria Chiara Di Trapani, an independent curator working on future projects for the vessel.

On April 18, 2015, the unnamed ship — originally built as a fishing vessel for a crew of around 15 — capsized off the coast of Libya, becoming the watery grave for the more than 1,000 people, many from Mali, Mauritius and the Horn of Africa, crammed onboard. Only 28 passengers survived.

Missing Migrants Project run by the International Organization for Migration has recorded a minimum of 12,521 deaths or disappearances during migration across the Central Mediterranean route.

The ship sank after colliding with a Portuguese freighter that had come to its assistance. An analysis of the shipwreck has been treated by migration activists as a case study on the perils of inexpert assistance at sea. The ship was later used as evidence in a case against the Tunisian captain who piloted the ship and in 2018 was convicted of human trafficking.

“The story of the boat is very complex, involving many people,” said Enzo Parisi, the spokesman for the Comitato 18 Aprile, a citizens’ group in Augusta, Sicily, that wants the boat to become a monument, “a testimony to tragedies at sea.”

In June 2016, the Italian government decided to raise the wreck 1,200 feet from the bottom of the sea to identify the victims. The ship was taken to a naval base in Augusta, and the victims were extracted.

laboratory at the University of Milan for the laborious task of cataloging and possible identification.

The ship’s destiny, at that point, was to head to the scrap yard, like hundreds of ships that have been seized by Italian authorities.

But the wreck’s symbolic power had become apparent. In 2019, supported by the Comitato 18 Aprile, Augusta’s municipal council was granted custody of the ship. The region lobbied to have it declared a monument of cultural interest and the committee came up with proposals for a memorial that would have the ship as the centerpiece.

“As a seaport, Augusta has always been welcoming,” said Giuseppe Di Mare, the mayor of the Sicilian city, which is a first landing spot for many migrants rescued in the Mediterranean, before they are processed and shunted off to other Italian cities. Because of the coronavirus, the sea rescues now include an interim stop on quarantine ships, and currently there are two such ships in Augusta’s harbor.

“Barca Nostra,” or “Our Ship” in Italian, the vessel was presented at the art exhibit as a “monument to contemporary migration” and restrictions on personal freedoms.

2019 documentary about the disaster and the attempts to identify the victims, Ms. Mirto counted headstones in a cemetery that read: “Unknown Immigrant Deceased in the Strait of Sicily on 18.4.2015.”

The project to identify victims continues, sponsored by Italy’s special commissioner for missing persons. Dr. Cattaneo, the forensic pathologist who is responsible for the university laboratory in Milan, said that funding shortages had hampered the work, and that, so far, only six victims had been identified using their methodology, which involves comparing the DNA extracted from the victims to the DNA of family members, as well as anthropological and dental traits.

She is hopeful that progress will be made this year, as the university is now working with other academic institutions, as well as Italian law enforcement authorities, but she cautioned that the condition in which researchers had found the bodies after a year under water made everything “extremely complex.”

The International Committee of the Red Cross and other national affiliates have also been involved in identifying the victims of the tragedy. They have adopted a different, complementary, approach, attempting to draft a list of the passengers onboard by cross-referencing the accounts of survivors, witnesses, relatives, friends, as well as from the objects that were recovered from the ship. Currently, they are calling some of the nearly 1,500 phone numbers — which have been tracked to 56 countries — that were found in the wreckage in hopes of gleaning new clues.

have died in the first months of 2021.

The ship will now undergo urgent maintenance, after two years exposed to a north Italian climate.

The city of Augusta has envisioned placing the ship in what the authorities describe as a “Garden of Memory,” that “will have to be in the open, because that boat gives a sense of the sea, the air, the skies. To enclose it in a building would clash with its’ story,” said Mr. Di Mare, the mayor.

“Certainly, the ship has attained an international dimension and we want this garden to become a place of reflection for the world, so that all people can ponder,” he said.

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Highest French Court Rules Killer of Jewish Woman Cannot Stand Trial

PARIS — The highest court in France has ruled that the man who killed a Jewish woman in 2017 in an anti-Semitic frenzy cannot stand trial because he was in a state of acute mental delirium brought on by his consumption of cannabis.

Kobili Traoré, who has admitted to the killing and is in a psychiatric institution, beat Sarah Halimi, 65, before throwing her out the window of her Paris apartment to cries of “Allahu akbar,” or God is great, and “I killed the devil.”

Mr. Traoré, who was 27 at the time, had been troubled by Ms. Halimi’s mezuza, which “amplified the frantic outburst of hate,” according to one psychiatric report.

The verdict, more than four years after the killing, ended judicial proceedings in France for the case. The verdict came after a lower-court ruling rejected a trial, and the Halimi family appealed. President Emmanuel Macron made an unusual personal intervention by calling for the case to have its day in court. Outrage in the large French Jewish community has accompanied the long failure to try Mr. Traoré.

Mireille Knoll was stabbed to death in her Paris apartment in what the prosecutor’s office called a killing tied to the “victim’s membership, real or supposed, of a particular religion.” In this case, the nature of the killing — a hate crime — was quickly recognized.

French Jews have been repeatedly targeted by jihadists over the past decade. In 2012, an Islamist gunman, Mohammed Merah, shot dead three children and a teacher at a Jewish school in the southern city of Toulouse. In 2015, Amedy Coulibaly identified customers as Jews at a kosher Paris supermarket before killing four of them. He declared he was murdering the people he hated most in the world: “the Jews and the French.”

Mr. Macron, sensitive to anger in the Jewish community at lone-wolf explanations of the violence, and at hesitation in some French media to use the words “anti-Semitic” in describing the crimes, said in January last year that the Halimi case “needs a trial.” He was widely rebuked for failing to respect the independence of the justice system.

Criticism has mounted over the law that has allowed Mr. Traoré to avoid trial. “It is possible to consider that the current law is unsatisfactory,” said Sandrine Zientara, one of the public prosecutors in the case. “Its application has led here to complete impunity.”

The outcome in the Halimi case, she said, had been met by “a great deal of incomprehension.”

Dozens of senators, reacting to the case, have proposed a revision of the law to the effect that psychic disturbance cannot exonerate someone whose troubled mental state is induced by a narcotic.

Of three psychiatric reports on Mr. Traoré, two said he could not appear in court because his capacity for discernment at the time of the crime had been “eliminated” by his delirious mental state. The third, by Daniel Zagury, said his mental state had only been “altered” and so he could be tried.

“The crime of Mr. Traoré is a frenzied, anti-Semitic act,” Mr. Zagury wrote.

Shimon Samuels, the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s director for international relations, called the verdict a “devastating blow,” which, he argued, “potentially creates a precedent for all hate criminals to simply claim insanity or decide to smoke, snort or inject drugs or even get drunk before committing their crimes.”

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