TODAY, Wednesday, September 2, the trial against the 14 alleged accomplices of the terrorist attacks against the satirical weekly magazine Charlie Hebdo and a Jewish supermarket in Paris has begun.
The accused are charged with having provided alleged logistical support, weapons and transportation to the perpetrators who left 17 dead in 2015.
After more than five years since the terrorist attacks and a delay due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the trial began in a Paris courtroom and will feature testimonies from the victims.
The hearings are set to reopen a traumatic chapter in recent French history, which began on January 7, 2015, when two brothers, Saïd and Chérif Kouachi, entered the offices of the Charlie Hebdo in Paris, killing 12 people, including a police officer. A day later a municipal police officer was killed and on January 9, another attacker, Amedy Coulibaly, killed four people in a Jewish supermarket in eastern Paris.
Due to social distancing measures, the trial that will have fewer observers than usual in the courtroom, but will be one of the few that will be filmed in France due to its judicial importance.
The January 2015 terrorist attacks triggered a demonstration of national unity, raised criticism of the French government over its ability to protect a multicultural society and also sparked a wave of violence by the self-described Islamic State that year.
Although the trial is of great social relevance, it could also be traumatic due to the statements and testimonies of survivors and relatives of the victims who have waited more than five years for justice. “This is completely new: the first weeks of this trial will be dedicated to the words of the victims,” explained the prosecutor Jean-François Ricard in an interview with RFI.
Today’s cover of Charlie Hebdo features the same cartoon of the Prophet Muhammad that was the motive for the terrorist attack on the weekly’s newsroom.
The drawings “belong to history and history cannot be rewritten or erased,” Charlie Hebdo published the day before. In the centre of the cover is a cartoon of the prophet drawn by cartoonist Jean Cabut, who was killed in the January 2015 attack and whose cover is titled “All this, just for that.”
Charlie Hebdo argued in the post that it was the right time to republish the cartoons, saying it was “essential” at the start of the trial. “We have often been asked since January 2015 to print other cartoons of Muhammad,” it read. “We have always refused to do so, not because it is prohibited, the law allows us to, but because there was a good reason to do it, a reason that makes sense and that adds something to the debate.”
Of the 14 suspects, three accused, Hayat Boumeddiene, Mohamed Belhoucine and his brother Mehdi Belhoucine, will be absent. Boumeddiene, Coulibaly’s partner, is perhaps the best known. She was dubbed ‘France’s Most Wanted Woman’ after the supermarket attack.
The hearings are expected to last until November and the opening sessions will be an opportunity to pay tribute to the 17 people who lost their lives in the terrorist attacks.
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