Five years later, France will try the suspects in the Charlie Hebdo murders


PARIS (Reuters) – Fourteen suspected accomplices of French Islamist activists behind the 2015 attacks on satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and a Jewish supermarket in Paris will stand trial next Wednesday.

FILE PHOTO: Flowers are seen outside the former office of satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo on the fifth anniversary of the attack and a siege at a kosher supermarket that killed 17 people in Paris, France, on January 7, 2020. REUTERS / Gonzalo Fuentes – / File Photo

Seventeen people were killed during three days of bloodshed that marked the start of a wave of Islamist violence that was to claim dozens of lives.

On January 7, 2015, brothers Said and Cherif Kouachi engaged in a gun rampage in the offices of Charlie Hebdo, a weekly whose cartoons on race, religion and politics tested the limits of what the society would accept in the name of free speech. They killed 12 people.

The next day, Amedy Coulibaly, an acquaintance of Cherif Kouachi, killed a policewoman. On January 9, he killed four Jewish men in a kosher supermarket in eastern Paris.

The three attackers were killed by police in separate clashes.

In a video recording, Coulibaly said the attacks were coordinated and carried out on behalf of the Islamic State. The Yemen-based al-Qaeda group in the Arabian Peninsula claimed responsibility for the Charlie Hebdo attack.

Zineb el Rhazoui, 38, who quit her job as a journalist at Charlie Hebdo two years after the attack, said she hoped her murdered colleagues would be remembered as gentle and cultured human beings.

“If (the attackers) committed this butchery, it is because they believed in an ideology and this ideology will have to be judged. This is what I expect, ”she told Reuters.

The alleged accomplices have been charged with crimes, including supplying weapons, membership of a terrorist organization and financing of terrorism.

Of the 14 defendants, three will be tried in absentia and may have died. Hayat Boumedienne, Coulibaly’s partner at the time of the attack, and brothers Mohamed and Mehdi Belhoucine reportedly traveled to areas of Syria under Islamic State control just before the attacks.

Among those on the bench will be Ali Riza Polat who, according to investigators, helped the three attackers amass their weapons and ammunition. He risks his life in prison if convicted.

Reporting by Tangi Salaun and Elizabeth Pineau; Written by Richard Lough, edited by Angus MacSwan

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