Charlie Hebdo trial: Fourteen found guilty of being accomplices in 2015 terror attacks

·3-min read

Fourteen people have been found guilty of being accomplices in terrorist attacks in France in 2015, which included the attack on the magazine Charlie Hebdo.

Eleven of the people convicted were in court for the verdicts.

The other three were tried in their absence - it is believed that the trio headed for northern Syria in the aftermath of the attacks, although reports suggest that two of them were subsequently killed during bombing attacks against Islamic State forces.

A total of 17 people were murdered during the attacks on the offices of Charlie Hebdo and a related attack on Jewish supermarket in January 2015.

The three attackers - brothers Said and Cherif Kouachi, and Amedy Coulibaly - were all killed by police.

They all claimed loyalty to Islamic State.

The people convicted today have all been found guilty of helping to arrange, fund and support the terrorist attacks.

The start of the trial was suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Proceedings were then interrupted due to health issues involving Ali Riza Polat, who faced the most serious charges of complicity in a terrorist act.

The hope for many in France is that the end of this court case will bring a sense of closure.

The attack on Charlie Hebdo was not the biggest terrorist attack in France's recent history, but it was the opening chapter of a particularly grim story that traumatised the country, and still affects France to this day.

Hundreds of people killed, horrendous acts of terrorism and a nation struggling to answer profound questions about society and religion - all of this seems to stem back to that January attack in 2015.

Charlie Hebdo is not just a byword for terrorism.

It was, and remains, a provocative, satirical magazine that takes pride in poking the establishment.

Its pages have always been littered with articles, cartoons and polemics designed to spark a reaction, mocking anything - culture, celebrity, politics and, regularly, religion.

The magazine had published a series of caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad - such a depiction is prohibited in many versions of Islam.

Its offices had been fire-bombed; its staff threatened.

The editor-in-chief, Stephane Charbonnier, lived with police protection for more than three years, but said that he would "rather die on my feet than live on my knees".

It was on that January morning that two heavily-armed brothers forced their way into the magazine's offices, just as Charlie Hebdo was holding its first editorial meeting of the year.

Charbonnier was shot dead, along with his police protection officer.

Seven other journalists were killed, as well as two visitors.

Another police officer died after confronting the attackers.

In a moment of particularly horrendous brutality, he was shot as he lay, wounded, on the street.

Said and Cherif Kouachi were killed by police a couple of days later, as they hid out in a printworks outside Paris.

At the same time, across the capital, Amedy Coulibaly was also shot dead by police, after killing a police officer and four hostages in a siege at a Jewish supermarket.

And France, just a few days into a new year, was on edge, struggling with a nascent sense of anxiety and nervousness.

Other more deadly attacks followed, in Paris, Nice and across France.

The country was placed into a state of emergency.

This year, to mark the start of the trial, Charlie Hebdo republished the controversial caricatures, once again stoking the debate over free speech.

Two people were stabbed outside the magazine's former offices (the attacker said he had not realised that Charlie Hebdo had moved); teacher Samuel Paty was beheaded by an attacker incensed that he had shown the caricatures to schoolchildren; three people were killed in a church in Nice, one of them decapitated.