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Accused Kidnap Gang Leader Extradited to France


The alleged leader of a gang accused of torturing a Jewish man to death near Paris has been extradited to France from Ivory Coast.

Youssouf Fofana's extradition from Ivory Coast comes more than a week after French police were sent to the West African country to track him down. He fled there shortly after the death of Jewish telephone salesman, Ilan Halimi.

Halimi had been kidnapped and tortured for three weeks before being dumped, naked and covered with burns, near a railway track outside Paris last month. He died on the way to the hospital.

French authorities say Halimi was killed, in part, because he was Jewish.

Police have questioned more than 18 people in connection with Halimi's kidnapping and death. Many of them are members of a suburban gang, calling themselves "the barbarians." Fofana, who is of Ivorian extraction, is the suspected gang leader.

Joseph Zrihen, vice president of France's representative Jewish council, said he was satisfied at the news of Fofana's extradition to France.

In a telephone interview, Zrihen said, the Jewish community believes French justice can now do its work, and that Fofana will be tried as he deserves. Zrihen says that will be a big satisfaction, not only to Halimi's family but also to France's Jewish community, and to all French who cannot accept that people kill without consequences.

Fofana has offered conflicting responses about his involvement in Halimi's death. A televised interview of Fofana in jail in Ivory Coast was broadcast in France on Monday. Many viewers were shocked to watch Fofana smiling and eating, as he responded to questions about Halimi's killing.

Tens-of-thousands of people demonstrated across France a week ago against anti-Semitism and racism.

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