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16 Dec, 2020 18:58

14 convicted over Charlie Hebdo & Paris terrorist attacks in 2015, key suspect sentenced to 30 years in prison

14 convicted over Charlie Hebdo & Paris terrorist attacks in 2015, key suspect sentenced to 30 years in prison

A French court on Wednesday found 14 people guilty of being accomplices in the Paris 2015 terrorist attacks on satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and a Jewish supermarket, with one person jailed for 30 years for funding the attacks.

Hayat Boumeddiene, the ex-partner of main attacker Amedy Coulibaly, was given a 30-year sentence after being convicted of financing terrorism and belonging to a criminal terrorist network.

She was among three suspects to be tried in absentia after the trio reportedly fled to Syria to join the Islamic State group (IS, formerly ISIS). Two of them are said to have been killed during bomb attacks against the militant group.

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In total, 17 people were killed in the 2015 attacks carried out by Coulibaly and brothers Said and Cherif Kouachi, all of whom claimed loyalty to IS.

On January 7, the Kouachi brothers forced their way into the Charlie Hebdo offices in Paris, killing 12 people, including editor-in-chief Stephane Charbonnier, his police protection officer, seven journalists, two visitors, and a policeman. The attackers were killed two days later in a shootout with police.

The day after the Charlie Hebdo raid, Coulibaly shot a policewoman dead in the Parisian suburb of Montrouge, before later taking hostages in a kosher supermarket, where he killed an employee and three customers before himself being killed by police.

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The primary defendant of the attacks who appeared in court, Ali Riza Polat, was found guilty of complicity in a terrorist crime, while other suspects' charges included membership of a criminal group, funding terrorism, and direct complicity in the attacks.

For six of the 11 defendants who appeared in court, terrorism charges were dropped, and they were found guilty of lesser crimes.

Reacting to the verdicts, Charlie Hebdo lawyer Richard Malka said that “justice had been done.”

“It was the trial of a nebula more or less close to the terrorists; what this decision says is, without this nebula, there is no attack,” the lawyer added.

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The trial, which had been delayed due to the pandemic, comes during another year of bloodshed for France, which has seen multiple Islamist terrorist attacks on its soil in 2020, including a teacher beheaded near Paris and an assailant killing three people in Nice.

Earlier this month, France announced a new bill to “strengthen Republican values,” while the government threatened to close some 76 mosques suspected of promoting “separatism.”

President Emmanuel Macron previously said that France “must tackle Islamist separatism,” although the draft legislation, which covers schooling and other areas, stops short of explicitly mentioning radical Islam. 

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