02 September 2020 16:30

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Charlie Hebdo attack: suspected accomplices go on trial in Paris

The trial of 14 suspects accused of involvement in the 2015 attacks on the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and the kosher supermarket Hyper Cacher has opened in Paris. The proceedings, which are expected to last 49 days and are being recorded live for "the historical record", began amid high security, and will relive the three days in January 2015 during which 17 people were killed and others were injured. The court will hear from 144 witnesses, 14 expert witnesses and 200 interested parties, mainly the friends and family of the victims. After the accused – who appeared in court behind a glass screen – gave their names and ages, the court was given a summary of the facts of the attacks, drawn from a total of 171 lengthy reports compiled by investigators over the last five years. As the presiding judge, Régis de Jorna, read the names of those killed, several members of their families wept.

The attacks began on 7 January 2015, when the brothers Saïd and Chérif Kouachi rampaged through the offices of tCharlie Hebdo in Paris, killing nine journalists and cartoonists, a building maintenance worker and two police officers. On 8 January, Amédy Coulibaly gunned down a police officer and critically injured a street cleaner. The following day, Coulibaly, who pledged allegiance to Islamic State, stormed the Hyper Cacher supermarket, killing four Jewish people and taking others hostage. All three gunmen were killed in shootouts with the police. Afterwards, millions of people took to the streets under the banner #JeSuisCharlie in a show of solidarity with those killed in the attacks.

Charlie Hebdo had infuriated Muslims worldwide by printing controversial cartoons of the prophet Muhammad. "These people aren't lackeys," said Patrick Klugman, a lawyer for one of the victims, insisting the suspects shared a deep-seated antisemitism. Three of the suspects are being tried in absentia: brothers Mohamed and Mehdi Belhoucine and Hayat Boumedienne, Coulibaly's girlfriend, who left for Isis-controlled areas in Syria or Iraq in the days before the attacks. Of the suspects who appeared in court, Ali Riza Polat, 35, faces the most serious charges of complicity in a terrorist act, which carries a maximum sentence of life in jail. Polat, who was close to Coulibaly, is suspected of playing a central role in preparing the attacks, notably by helping to build up the arsenal of weapons used.

Polat was the first among the 11 accused in court to speak on Wednesday, briefly confirming his name and date of arrest. His lawyer, Isabelle Coutant-Peyre, caused outrage when she accused the country's secret services of failing to do their job and prevent the attacks. Coutant-Peyre is most famous in France for having defended Ilich Ramírez Sánchez, otherwise known as Carlos the Jackal, whom she married while he was in jail. Defence lawyers also objected to De Jorna's insistence that everyone should wear a mask, including the defendants, although he admitted it was "a problem to not see the faces of the accused". Mohamed Belhoucine, who met Coulibaly in jail and is accused of opening up channels of communication with Isis, faces the same complicity charge as Polat.

Belhoucine's whereabouts are unknown, and both he and his brother have been reported as killed while fighting with the terrorist group. French officials suspect Boumedienne is in Syria. All but one of the remainder of the accused in court face charges of facing charges of "association with a terrorist group". Among those in court were Laurent "Riss" Sourisseau, the director of Charlie Hebdo who survived the attack. Also present was Corinne Rey, known as Coco, a cartoonist who was forced at gunpoint to enter the door code allowing the Kouachi brothers into the offices. Hours before the trial opened, Emmanuel Macron, on an official visit to Lebanon, defended the "freedom to blaspheme" in France. The French president said: "Since the start of the third republic in France there has been the freedom to blaspheme, which is linked to the freedom of conscience … I am here to protect all these freedoms. Paris (CNN) Fourteen people have gone on trial in Paris over their alleged involvement in a series of deadly terrorist attacks in the city, which began in the offices of French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, and ended at a kosher supermarket two days later. The suspects are accused of having provided logistical support to the perpetrators--brothers Said and Chérif Kouachi, and their accomplice Amedy Coulibaly--and face charges of participating in a terrorist criminal association. If convicted, several of the defendants face sentences of up to 20 years. Eleven of the suspects will appear in court--10 of them from behind bulletproof glass. Three others, who traveled to Syria in the days before the attacks began, will be tried in absentia. Hayat Boumedienne, Amedy Coulibaly's wife, is one of those being tried in absentia. Fourteen people have gone on trial over the deadly attack on the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, which sparked a wave of violence by Islamic State in Europe. The defendants - 13 men and a woman - are accused of being accomplices to the attacks in January 2015, which also targeted a policewoman and a Jewish supermarket. Seventeen people were killed in total, along with all three gunmen. Image: The gunmen were seen after they shot people in the Charlie Hebdo offices Image: A painting pays tribute to workers from Charlie Hebdo who were killed Eleven of the defendants appeared in a specially modified courtroom in Paris on Wednesday, with each one watched by two police officers wearing balaclavas and bullet-proof vests. Those on trial are accused of buying weapons and cars and helping with logistics for the attacks. Most of the accused in court insist their help was unwitting. They are Hayat Boumedienne, the partner of one of the gunman at the time, and brothers Mohamed and Mehdi Belhoucine, who travelled to Syria days before the attacks and may be dead. Image: Police officers stand guard outside Paris' courthouse The defendants in court face charges ranging from supplying weapons and logistical help to financing terrorism and membership of a terrorist organisation. Image: A lawyer of one of the accused arrives at Paris' courthouse The attacks in January 2015 started during an editorial meeting at Charlie Hebdo, whose offices had been guarded by police since the publication of caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed years earlier. Brothers Cherif and Said Kouachi shot dead 12 people before carjacking a vehicle and fleeing. Image: Brothers Cherif Kouachi (left) and Said Kouachi (right) carried out the attack on the Charlie Hebdo offices Two days later, on the eve of the Jewish Sabbath, Amedy Coulibaly stormed a kosher supermarket, killing four hostages in the name of Islamic State. The attackers died that day during police raids. Image: People around the world used 'Je Suis Charlie' to support the magazine and those killed Investigators later realised that Coulibaly was also responsible for the death of a young policewoman the previous day. On the opening day of the trial on Wednesday, Charlie Hebdo re-ran a series of cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammed, which Muslims consider blasphemous. Image: Charlie Hebdo reprinted the cartoon of the Prophet Mohammed on Wednesday The magazine included an image of the Prophet in a bomb-shaped turban that stirred outrage in the Muslim world when it was first published by a Danish newspaper in 2005. A year later, Charlie Hebdo's then-director was placed on the "wanted list" of al Qaeda's Yemen branch. Explaining the decision to republish the cartoons, editor Laurent "Riss" Sourisseau wrote: "We will never lie down. More than 250 people have been killed in France in Islamist violence since the January 2015 attacks. A separate network of French and Belgian fighters for Islamic State struck Paris again in 2015, killing 130 people in attacks at the Bataclan concert hall, the national stadium, and in bars and restaurants. PARIS — France began revisiting one of the worst chapters in its modern history on Wednesday, as a landmark trial opened in Paris for the January 2015 terrorist attacks that killed 17 people in and around the French capital. Over at least the next two months, before the glare of the world's media and under tight security, the court is expected to meticulously examine three harrowing days that traumatized France five and a half years ago, starting with a daytime assault on the offices of Charlie Hebdo, a satirical magazine that Islamic extremists targeted after it published cartoons lampooning Islam. The killings were followed by a string of deadly jihadist attacks, culminating with assaults in November that year in and around Paris that killed 130 people, vaulting France into a yearslong state of emergency. Saïd and Chérif Kouachi, the two brothers who carried out the Charlie Hebdo attack, died in a shootout with the police north of Paris two days later. A third attacker, Amédy Coulibaly, killed a police officer in a Parisian suburb and four Jewish hostages at a kosher supermarket before dying himself when the police stormed the building.