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France Seeks Long Sentences For Suspected Accomplices In Charlie Hebdo Attack

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Prosecutors on Tuesday, 8 December, sought stiff sentences from five years to life in jail for 14 suspected accomplices of the Islamist gunmen who murdered cartoonists and killed hostages at a Jewish supermarket in Paris, EuroNews reports.

On 7 January 2015, brothers Chérif and Saïd Kouachi stormed the Paris offices of Charlie Hebdo in the Rue Nicolas-Appert before opening fire on its staff and murdering 11 people including five of the satirical magazine’s cartoonists.

Fourteen people are appearing in court and three are being tried in absentia.

One of those being tried in absentia is Hayat Boumeddiene, the fugitive partner of Amedy Coulibaly who was killed after attacking the supermarket.

Prosecutors are seeking a life sentence for Ali Riza Polat, the main defendant, who is in court.

All three actual participants in the 7-9 January 2015 attacks were killed and the defendants who went on trial in early September are accused of obtaining weapons or providing logistical support, all 14 in the dock deny the charges and verdicts are expected on 16 December.

Prosecutor Julie Holveck told the court that all the defendants had their share of responsibility for the deadly process that led up to the attacks and she called for a firm and balanced response. It was not a question of making the living pay for the crimes of the dead, they are the kingpin and backbone of this plot she insisted.

Ali Riza Polat, described as Coulibaly’s right-hand man had a pivotal role in preparing the attacks and had precise knowledge of the terrorist plan, even if he disputed that prosecutors alleged, he has admitted taking part in scams but denies any knowledge of the plot.

It is unknown whether the three being tried in absentia are even alive, but prosecutors say Hayat Boumeddiene should be given a 30-year sentence with a minimum of 20 behind bars.

She fled France for Syria via Turkey a week before the attacks, prosecutors say she took part in preparing the attacks and used a variety of methods to buy the weapons. She was thought to have died in a US airstrike last year but a female jihadist told French security services she had escaped from a camp for militant detainees last year.

As for the other two defendants being tried in absentia, prosecutors want Mohamed Belhoucine, a close friend of Coulibaly to be jailed for life with a minimum tariff of 22 years behind bars for complicity in his attack on the Hyper Cacher supermarket which left four people dead.

Belhoucine is suspected of giving the killer the most significant operational support as well as acting as his religious mentor, prosecutors want his younger brother Mehdi, to face 20 years in jail for helping Hayat Boumeddiene escape.

Of the other defendants present in court, prosecutors want 11 to face heavy jail terms of 13 to 20 years for helping the three killers.

The attacks marked the start of a long series of terror assaults in France, many of them carried out by young French devotees of Islamic state.

After the start of the trial, the cartoons were at the centre of another deadly attack in October with a young Chechen refugee beheading teacher Samuel Paty for showing some of the caricatures to pupils in a class on free speech.

 

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