Lawyer Ambroise Colombani, who represents Adel Amastaibou, answered our questions regarding the murder of Sebastien Selam:
He admitted that his client said to police that he was happy the 'dirty Jew was dead' but evaluated that his anti-Semitic insults were part of a delirious state.
"Do you realise how these policemen get confessions?" the lawyer asked me. "They nearly torture the suspects."
Mr. Colombani added that Adel Amastaibou wasn't even aware at the time that he had killed Sebastien Selam.
He also declared that the two men were friends until several months before the killing.
Article published in the JC on November 9:
French court re-opens case of stabbed DJ
French authorities have re-opened an investigation into the 2003 murder of a 23-year-old disc-jockey.
On the night of November 19, as Sebastien Selam was about to drive to the Paris night club where he worked, his neighbour Adel Amastaibou stabbed him to death in their building’s parking area.
After his arrest later that night, Amastaibou admitted to police that he had killed Mr Selam, claiming that he had heard voices that told him to stab his neighbour. According to the deposition, which the JC has seen, the killer said he was happy that “the dirty Jew was dead”.
Police considered that Amastaibou was mentally unstable and could not be held responsible for his actions.
“This is not a racial or a religious hate crime,” Ambroise Colombani, Amastaibou’s lawyer, said. “My client is much worst than unstable, he is very sick. His antisemitic insults were a part of his delirious state.”
In court, Mr Colombani presented psychiatric experts who diagnosed his client as unstable, and in 2006 the court sent Amastaibou to the Maison Blanche psychiatric hospital in Paris.
He has since been transferred from the hospital to another institution, but his lawyer confirmed that Amastaibou is still in a closed psychiatric institution.
At the time, Jewish leaders considered that since Amastaibou was diagnosed as insane there was no use in mobilising the community to have the murder recognised as a hate crime.
However, Mr Selam’s mother Juliette and her lawyer Alex Metzker do not believe the insanity theory.
“Obviously, a man who kills so savagely is deranged, but not irresponsible for his actions,” said Mr Metzker. According to Mr Metzker, Amastaibou was convicted of antisemitic violence several months before the Selam killing, after attacking a rabbi.
“He was considered sane at the time,” said the lawyer.
Amastaibou’s lawyer said he was not aware of this prior conviction.
Mrs Selam has managed to obtain a re-examination of the case over a technicality, and recently met with Jewish leaders and Christophe Ingrain, President Nicolas Sarkozy’s adviser on justice affairs, Sammy Ghozlan, the head of the vigilance bureau against anti-Semitism has told the JC.
“I believe things are changing. I believe the truth can be discovered,” Mrs Selam said.