Paris – More than five years after the deadly attack on the offices of the French satirical newspaper in Paris, 14 people were tried on Wednesday to help the three attackers, who were all killed by police. On January 7, 2015, brothers Saïd and Chérif Kouachi broke into the newspaper’s offices and killed 11 people, including eight pensioners.
Charlie Hebdo director Stephan Harbonnier, known as “Sharp,” was among those killed.
As they left the scene, the brothers killed a police officer who had been imprisoned outside the building, following numerous threats against the newspaper.
These threats concerned the publication of Charlie Hebdo cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad. Many Muslims consider any depiction of the Prophet’s resemblance sacred, and millions have been offended by the cartoons.
As the trial began on Wednesday, the newspaper republished some of the cartoons, under the headline: “Tout ça pour ça” (All this for that).
The newspaper now operates from a secret, heavily guarded site, and its reporters continue to receive threats, but the provocative director of Laurent “Riss” Sourisseau, who was injured in the attack, vowed in the new edition: “We will never surrender. we will never give up. “
It took five and a half years for the case to be heard. At the time, investigators linked the chain of events that led to the attacks, first to Charlie Hebdo’s offices and two days later to a Jewish supermarket in a Paris suburb.
Police initially believed the second attack was the work of a copy. However, in building their case, investigators found that the two were closely coordinated and that the Kouachi brothers and Amedy Coulibaly – who killed a police officer on January 8 and then four men while taking hostages at the Hyper Cacher supermarket on January 9 – they had many accomplices together.
There are 14 people on trial who are accused of helping the Kuachi brothers and Koulibali. They face a number of charges, such as providing material support, financing, buying weapons and supplying an escape car for the attackers. They face possible sentences between 10 years and life imprisonment.
Only 11 of the accused were in court on Wednesday. Two of the other three are missing,. The third, Coulibaly’s religious wife, was reportedly seen a few months ago at an ISIS camp in Syria.
In a rare decision on a terrorism trial in France, judges agreed that high-security trials would take place at a later age. There is no live broadcast by the court, as this practice is prohibited under French law.
Few people will be allowed in the courtroom, where anti-coronary virus measures have halved the number of seats available to the press, the public and more than 200 political parties in the case. These political parties include some of the people who were taken hostage in the Jewish supermarket, and relatives of the 17 people killed in the three attacks.
“This test is an important moment for them [victims and survivors]”Marie-Laure Barré and Nathalie Senyk, lawyers for the victims of the Charlie Hebdo attack, said in a statement to the French news agency AFP.” 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. ”
A total of 144 witnesses and 14 experts will be called in during the 11-week journey, which ends on November 10.