Trial opens for 14 in Charlie Hebdo attacks

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PARISA trial opened Wednesday in Paris for 14 defendants in the 2015 murderous attacks against the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo and the Hyper Cacher supermarket.

The accused face 10 years in prison for life if found guilty.

The attacks were reportedly motivated by the newspaper’s publication of 12 controversial cartoons, one of which mocked Prophet Muhammad, considered sacrilege by Muslims.

The reaction in France was swift, with the launch of the slogan “Je suis Charlie” (I am Charlie) and thousands of people marching in the streets in solidarity.

Charlie Hebdo republished Tuesday on its cover the same cartoons with the title “All that for that”.

A three-day reign of terror in the capital began on January 7 when two gunmen armed with Kalashnikov AK-47 assault rifles stormed the Shalie Hebdo headquarters, killing 12 people, including 10 staff, a visitor and a policeman outside.

Violence ensued the next day, when two separate terrorists shot dead a policewoman in the Paris suburb of Montrouge, as well as the next day with four hostages shot dead at the Hyper Cacher kosher supermarket in the eastern suburb of Dammartin-en-Goele.

The trial, which is expected to last four months, will take place before the Special Assize Court, the only French court to have a jury trial. A total of 144 witnesses, including survivors, will participate, with 14 experts present to assess the evidence presented.

All four armed men except one were shot dead by the police; the 14 judged are considered accomplices.

Hayat Boumeddiene, who carried out the executions at the Hyper Cacher market, is still at large. Even if he is not physically present, Boumeddiene is one of those who will be judged.

On Charlie Hebdo’s decision to reprint the cartoons, President Emmanuel Macron declined to comment on Tuesday, saying it was not for him as a leader to comment on a free speech issue.

“There is in France a freedom of blasphemy, which is attached to the freedom of conscience. I am here to protect all of these freedoms. ”

The controversial cartoons depicting Muhammad were first published by the Danish daily Jyllands-Posten in 2005 and reprinted by Charlie Hebdo in 2006.

Following the publication of the cartoons in 2006, people warned Charlie Hebdo on social media that he would pay for his teasing. For Muslims, any portrayal of the Prophet Muhammad is blasphemous.

In 2007, a French court dismissed accusations by Islamic groups that the publication incited hatred against Muslims.

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