Suspected accomplices in Charlie Hebdo massacre go on trial
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Suspected accomplices in Charlie Hebdo massacre go on trial

14 people accused of helping brothers kill some of France’s best-known cartoonists stand trial

Members of the French Jewish community hold signs reading "I am Charlie" and "I am a Jew from France" at a rally in Jerusalem, Israel in January 2015
Members of the French Jewish community hold signs reading "I am Charlie" and "I am a Jew from France" at a rally in Jerusalem, Israel in January 2015

The suspected accomplices of terrorists who attacked and killed satirists at a magazine in Paris in 2015, before attacking and killing staff and customers at a kosher deli two days later, have gone on trial in the French capital.

Security was tight for the trial of 14 people accused of helping two brothers kill some of France’s best-known cartoonists at the offices of Charlie Hebdo before another man who proclaimed loyalty to the Islamic State group attacked the kosher supermarket Hyper Cacher, with 17 left dead from the two attacks.

The trial, one of the first in France to be televised given its importance, is expected to last almost two months, during which time more than 150 witnesses will be called.

On 7 January 2015, Saïd and Chérif Kouachi attacked the magazine’s offices, killing nine journalists, an office worker and two police officers.

A day later Amédy Coulibaly shot and killed a police officer. The next day he walked into Hyper Cacher, killed four people and took others hostage. All three attackers were ultimately shot and killed by police.

Some of the suspects, such as Coulibaly’s girlfriend, are being tried in absentia. They left France for Syria and Iraq just days before the attacks. Prosecutors say all those on trial share common beliefs, and that all are antisemitic.

The magazine had provoked outrage in some quarters by publishing cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed, and vowed to do so again this week, as a mark of defiance.

Speaking before the trial, French President Emmanuel Macron reaffirmed “the right to blaspheme” as an integral element of free speech. He said this was “linked to the freedom of conscience”.

Macron added: “A president is not here to qualify the editorial choice of a journalist or editor because we have freedom of the press, that we rightly hold dear.”

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