The trial of the January 2015 attacks opens in Paris under high surveillance

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PARIS | The war carried on French soil, against satire, the Jews, the State: more than five years after the first jihadist attacks of an unprecedented wave, the trial of the attacks against Charlie hebdo, a policewoman in Montrouge and the Hyper Cacher opens on September 2 in Paris, under close surveillance.

This emblematic trial, the first for a jihadist attack committed in France since the one held in 2017 for the killings perpetrated by Mohamed Merah five years earlier, was initially scheduled before the summer, but it was postponed due to the health crisis.

It is also the first terrorism trial to be filmed, by virtue of its “interest in the constitution of historical archives of justice”.

Due to the persistence of the COVID-19 epidemic, the capacities of the courtrooms and broadcasting rooms of the judicial tribunal, in the north-west of Paris, are reduced by half. In addition, exceptional security measures have been put in place, in particular metal detector checks.

The special assize court, which usually sits in the courthouse on the Île de la Cité, must try until November 10 fourteen accused, suspected of varying degrees of logistical support to the brothers Saïd and Chérif Kouachi and to Amédy Coulibaly, authors of the attacks that left 17 dead and terrorized France.

On January 7, 2015, the Kouachi brothers murdered 12 people in the attack on the editorial staff of the satirical weekly Charlie hebdo in Paris before taking flight. The next day, Amédy Coulibaly killed a municipal policewoman in Montrouge, near Paris, then on January 9, he executed four men, all of them Jews, during the hostage-taking of the Hyper Cacher store, in eastern Paris.

He died on the spot in a police assault, the Kouachi brothers having been shot down shortly before in a printing press where they had entrenched themselves, in Dammartin-en-Goële (Seine-et-Marne).

“High stake”

Of the fourteen accused, three are missing: Hayat Boumedienne, Coulibaly’s companion, and the Belhoucine brothers, who left a few days before the attacks for the Iraqi-Syrian zone. Their death, mentioned by various sources, has never been officially confirmed, and they remain subject to arrest warrants.

The antiterrorist judges have retained the heaviest charges, the “complicity” in terrorist crimes, punishable by life imprisonment, against the eldest of the Belhoucine brothers, Mohamed, and against Ali Riza Polat, who will be in the box of accused.

This close friend of Amédy Coulibaly is suspected of having played a central role in the preparations for the attacks, in particular the supply of the arsenal used by the terrorist trio.

The other defendants are mainly tried for “criminal terrorist association” and face twenty years imprisonment. Only one appears free under judicial supervision for simple “criminal association”, an offense punishable by ten years in prison.

About 200 people became civil parties. Some survivors of the killing Charlie hebdo and the taking of hostages at the Hyper Cacher will testify at the bar.

“This trial is an important step for them. They are waiting for justice to be done to find out who did what, knowing that those who pulled the trigger are no longer there, ”explained to AFP Marie-Laure Barré and Nathalie Senyk, lawyers for victims of Charlie hebdo.

“It is not because Amédy Coulibaly died that this trial is not at stake. Without the defendants in the box, Coulibaly could not have acted ”, underlines Patrick Klugman, lawyer for victims of Hyper Cacher, and for whom, in this section, it is not a“ trial of lampists ” .

For Safya Akorri, one of the defense lawyers, in the absence of the “main officials”, who will not be able to “report”, justice will on the contrary be “put to the test during these two months, and the wait of rigor that we are entitled to place in it is immense ”.

Investigations are continuing into the support the Kouachi brothers received from Yemen, where one of them visited in 2011.

The jihadist attack targeting Charlie Hebdo had indeed been claimed from Yemen by Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (Aqpa), of which an executive close to the two brothers, Peter Cherif, was arrested in December 2018 in Djibouti and handed over to France. . He was indicted in this section, but his possible involvement will not be examined during the trial. Coulibaly had claimed to be part of the Islamic State (IS) terrorist group.

In total, the wave of attacks perpetrated in France since January 2015 has left 258 dead.

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