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France: 14 guilty over Charlie Hebdo attack

December 16, 2020

The 14 defendants included the former partner of one of the attackers, weapons dealers and childhood friends. Most said they did not know of the terrorist intent and were only trying to aid in a less severe crime.

Members of the special French RAID forces secure the area for the visit by Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to the Hyper Cacher kosher supermarket January 12, 2015 near the Porte de Vincennes in Paris
The attack on the kosher supermarket happened two days after the Charlie Hebdo attackImage: Reuters/C. Platiau

A French court on Wednesday found 14 people guilty of complicity in the January 2015 attacks on the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and a kosher supermarket.

Three of the 14 were tried in absentia after fleeing to Syria, including Hayat Boumeddiene, the former partner of the Islamist militant who killed four people in a supermarket and was later shot dead.

The remaining 11 men formed a circle of friends and prison acquaintances who had argued their help was either unwitting or done to facilitate a more regular crime such as armed robbery.

One of those convicted was on a gambling binge during the attacks, another was a marijuana-smoking ambulance driver, and another was a childhood friend of the market attacker.

Another defendant was Ali Riza Polat, described as the lieutenant of the anti-Semitic market attacker, Amedy Coulibaly. He was the only defendant to face a life term, and his frequent profane outbursts during the case drew a rebuke from the judge.

Several of the defendants exchanged texts or calls with Coulibaly in the days leading up to the attack.

Seventeen people were killed in the two attacks, as well as three gunmen. On January 7, 2015, 12 people were shot dead when two gunmen raided the editorial offices of Charlie Hebdo before fleeing.

As the two gunmen fled, Coulibaly separately shot and killed a young policewoman after he failed to attack a Jewish community center in the suburb of Montrouge.

The two incidents weren't immediately linked until reports later emerged of Coulibaly opening fire in a kosher supermarket and seizing hostages, during which four people were killed.

Eventually, all three gunmen were killed in near-simultaneous police raids. The attacks were claimed by the "Islamic State" terrorist group.

Wednesday's court case attracted considerable media attention in France, according to DW reporter Lisa Louis.

The defendants

The people on trial included:

Hayat Boumeddiene, tried in absentia, partner of Amedy Coulibaly, organized frauds to help finance his attacks, fled to Syria and joined "Islamic State." Charged with being part of criminal terrorist network and financing of terrorism.

Mohamed Belhoucine, presumed dead and tried in absentia, religious mentor of Amedy Coulibaly and wrote his oath of allegiance to "Islamic State." Charged with complicity in Coulibaly’s crimes.

Mehdi Belhoucine, presumed dead and tried in absentia, organized the departure and travelled with Hayat Boumeddiene to Syria. Charged with being part of a criminal terrorist network.

Ali Riza Polat, Coulibaly’s right-hand man, supervised the acquisition of weapons used in both attacks. Charged with complicity in Amedy Coulibaly’s crimes.

Amar Ramdani, helped Coulibaly source weapons and organize frauds to finance his attacks. Charged with being part of a criminal terrorist network.

Said Makhlouf, cousin of Amar Ramdani, allegedly knew of Coulibaly’s plans. Charged with being part of a criminal network.

Mohamed-Amine Fares, an arms trafficker based in Lille accused of acting as a broker between Ramdani and Makhlouf. Charged with being part of a criminal network.

Nezar Mickael Pastor Alwatik, met Coulibaly in jail and helped with weapons. Charged with being part of a criminal terrorist network.

Willy Prevost, childhood acquaintance of Coulibaly, bought a car and non-lethal weapons used in the attack. Charged with being part of a criminal terrorist network.

Christophe Raumel, allegedly helped his friend Willy Prevost to buy the car and weapons. Charged with being part of a criminal network.

Michael Catino, linked to other members of the so-called "Belgium-Ardennes" network of arm traffickers. Charged with being part of a criminal network.

Metin Karasular, another member of the arms group, tried to purchase weapons. Charged with being part of a criminal network.

Abdelaziz Abbad, tried to purchase weapons for Coulibaly in Belgium and North-Eastern France. Charged with being part of a criminal network.

Miguel Martinez, a Muslim convert and part of the same arms group. Charged with being part of a criminal network. 

aw/rc (Reuters, AP)