"They acted with indescribable cruelty," the judiciary police chief leading the investigation said. "They kept him naked and tied up for weeks. They cut him and in the end poured flammable liquid on him and set him alight."
While the citizens of France were shocked by the unbridled violence of the gang, Halimi's family claims that the murder was motivated by anti-Semitism.
"We think there is anti-Semitism in this affair," Rafi Halimi, Ilan's uncle, told the press.
"First, because the killers tried to kidnap at least two other Jews, and second, because of what they said on the phone," Rafi Halimi added. "When we said we didn't have 500,000 euros to give them they told us to go to the synagogue and get it," Rafi said. "They also recited verses from the Koran."
But the Paris public prosecutor, Jean-Claude Marin, told Parisian Jewish radio on Thursday that "no element of the current investigation could link this murder to an anti-Semitic declaration or action."
A police source said the gang is a group of childhood friends who grew up in Bagneux, a suburb south of Paris. The gang includes Muslims of North African descent and is headed by Youssef Fofana, who has escaped police capture so far. According to Marin, the gang had made six similar abduction attempts in the past.
Last Monday, a few days after the kidnappers ended contact with the family, Ilan was found near a suburban train station south of Paris, naked, handcuffed and gagged, with burns covering 80 percent of his body. He died on the way to the hospital.
They would do that to a Muslim?