Paris – More than five years after the bloody attack on the offices of a French satirical newspaper in ParisFourteen people were on trial on Wednesday for their role in aiding the three attackers, who were all killed by police. On January 7, 2015, the brothers Said and Sherif Kouachi entered the newspaper’s offices and killed 11 people, including 8 members of the editorial staff.
Charlie Hebdo’s manager, Stephane Charbonnier, known as “Drink”, was among those shot dead.
While fleeing the scene, the brothers killed a policeman who had been deployed on guard outside the building, after numerous threats to the newspaper.
These threats relate to Charlie Hebdo publishing cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad. Many Muslims consider any depiction of the likeness of the Prophet a sacrilege, and the cartoons have been offended by millions.
As the trial begins on Wednesday, the newspaper reprinted some of the cartoons, under the headline: “Tout ça pour ça” (All for this).
The newspaper now operates from a secret, heavily guarded location, and its journalists continue to receive threats, but its defiant director, Laurent “Reyes” Sorriso, who was wounded in the attack, pledged in its new edition: “We will never surrender and never surrender.”
It took five and a half years for the case to reach trial. At that time, investigators gathered the chain of events that led to the attacks, first on the offices of Charlie Hebdo, then two days later in a Jewish supermarket in a suburb of Paris.
At first, the police believed the second attack was the work of a copycat. However, in building their case, investigators found that the two were closely coordinating, and that the brothers Kwashi and Amidi Coulibaly – who killed a policewoman on January 8 and then four men while taking hostages in a hypermarket kashir on January 9 – had many accomplices.
Fourteen people are being tried for aiding the brothers Kouachi and Coulibaly. They face a range of charges including providing material support, financing, purchasing weapons and purchasing an escape vehicle for the attackers. They face potential penalties ranging from 10 years to life in prison.
Only 11 of the defendants were in court on Wednesday. Two of the other three are missing,. The third wife, Coulibaly’s religious wife, was reportedly seen a few months ago in an ISIS camp in Syria.
In a rare decision to prosecute terrorism in France, the judges agreed that the maximum security court proceedings would be portrayed for posterity. There is no live broadcast from inside the court, as this practice is prohibited under French law.
Only a small number of people will be allowed into the courtroom, as anti-coronavirus measures have halved the number of seats available for the press and the public and the more than 200 civil parties in the case. These civilian parties include some people being held hostage in a jewish supermarket, and the relatives of 17 people killed in the three attacks.
“This trial is an important moment for them [victims and survivors]”They are waiting for justice to be served, to see who did what, knowing that those who pulled the trigger are no longer there,” Marie Laurie Barry and Nathalie Senec, a lawyer for the victims of the Charlie Hebdo attack, said in a statement to Agence France-Presse.
A total of 144 witnesses and 14 experts will be called during the course, which is scheduled to last 11 weeks and ends November 10.
Twitter fan. Beer specialist. Entrepreneur. General pop culture nerd. Music trailblazer. Problem solver. Bacon evangelist. Foodaholic.