French court finds 14 guilty of aiding Charlie Hebdo terrorist attack

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Representative Image
Representative Image

Paris [France], December 17 (ANI): A French court on Wednesday found 14 defendants guilty of aiding the terrorist attacks, which killed 17 people in 2015, including 10 people at the offices of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, which had published cartoons of Prophet Muhammad.

Regis de Jorna, the presiding magistrate, read the verdict to a hushed wood-panelled courtroom in northern Paris, reported New York Times.

Two days after the killings at Charlie Hebdo, four people were killed at a kosher Paris supermarket during a separate but coordinated attack.

The trial, which opened more than three months ago, was delayed for several weeks due to an outbreak of COVID-19 among the accused.

The hearing comes after a stabbing incident outside Charlie Hebdo's former headquarters, which left two people injured in September.

Last month, an 18-year-old man of Chechen origin beheaded Samuel Paty, a 47-year-old teacher who had shown pupils cartoons of the prophet in a civics lesson on freedom of speech. French President Emmanuel Macron paid tribute to Paty, calling him a "quiet hero" dedicated to instilling the democratic values of the French Republic in his pupils.

In a subsequent terror attack, a knife-wielding attacker killed three people at a church in the French city of Nice on October 29.

The sentences handed out to the defendants ranged from four years in prison to life imprisonment.

0Mohamed Belhoucine, who is presumed dead in Syria, was handed the heaviest sentence for his role in "mentoring" Amedy Coulibaly, who carried out a separate but coordinated attack at a kosher Paris supermarket after the killings outside Charlie Hebdo, declaring that he was murdering the people he hated most in the world: "The Jews and the French."

Another defendant, Ali Riza Polat, was sentenced to 30 years for playing "an essential role" in the preparation of the attacks. His lawyer immediately said he would appeal, reported New York Times.

Hayat Boumeddiene, Coulibaly's partner at the time, was also sentenced to 30 years in prison for being part of a criminal terrorist network.

Three other defendants were tried in absentia during the landmark trial, while two of them are presumed dead.

The trial also focused on people charged with providing logistical support, including cash, weapons and vehicles, according to New York Times.

In October, a political storm followed as Macron decided to tackle what he called "Islamist separatism", after which he drafted a law to reinforce Republican principles. (ANI)