The fuguitive widow of an Islamic State rifleman and a man known as his logistician were convicted of terrorism and sentenced to 30 years in prison during the trial of 14 people for the fatal attacks in Paris on the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo and a kosher supermarket .
The verdict ends the three-month trial related to the three days of the murders in Paris six years ago, which the Islamic State Group and Al-Qaeda jointly alleged.
During the trial, France was hit by new attacks, a wave of coronavirus infections among the defendants and devastating testimony of bloodshed that continues to rock France.
Among those convicted in her absence was Hayat Boumeddiene, the former wife of Amedy Coulibaly, who killed a policewoman and then four people in a Jewish supermarket.
Eleven more were present and all were convicted of the crime. The sentences ranged from 30 years for Ali Riza Polat, who is described as the lieutenant of the virulent anti-Semitic market attacker Coulibaly, to four years with a simple criminal conviction.
A total of 17 people were murdered in the attacks on Charlie Hebdo’s offices and a related attack on the Jewish supermarket in January 2015.
The three attackers – the brothers Said and Cherif Kouachi and Amedy Coulibaly – were all killed by the police.
Boumeddiene, a widow, fled to Syria and is said to be still alive. The police described them at the time as “armed and dangerous” suspects.
The two men who drove her out of France and who were also tried in absentia are believed to be dead. Eleven others were present.
The prosecutors are demanding a minimum sentence of five years.
According to video statements by the judicial police, the investigators screened 37 million bits of telephone data.
Among the men handcuffed behind the closed grandstands of the courtroom and flanked by masked and armed officers were several who had exchanged texts or phone calls with Coulibaly in the days before the attack. They described all contacts as normal communication between acquaintances.
Among the witnesses were the widows of Cherif and Said Kouachi, the brothers who stormed Charlie Hebdo’s offices and decimated the newspaper’s editorial staff in what they believed was an act of revenge for the publication of cartoons of Prophet Muhammad years ago. The offices were set on fire and unmarked, and the editors were protected around the clock. But it wasn’t enough.
A total of 12 people died in this attack. The first was Frederic Boisseau, who worked in maintenance. Then the Kouachis grabbed Corinne Rey, a cartoonist who had gone down to smoke, and forced her upstairs to enter the door code. She watched in horror as they opened fire on the editorial office. For years she felt crippling guilt that her life was spared while so many others died.
“I wasn’t killed, but what happened to me was absolutely chilling and I’ll live with it until my life is over,” she told the court.
The next day, Coulibaly shot and killed a young policewoman after failing to attack a Jewish community center in the Montrouge suburb. By then the Kouachis were on the run and France was full of fear.
In a kosher supermarket, Coulibaly entered with an assault rifle, pistols, and explosives. He methodically shot an employee and customer, then killed a second customer before ordering a cashier to close the shop’s blinds. The pictures were shown in a silent courtroom.
The first victim, Yohan Cohen, was dying on the floor and Coulibaly turned to about 20 hostages in the room and asked if he should “finish off” him.
Despite the requests, Coulibaly fired a shot, according to the cashier Zarie Sibony. “They are Jews and French, the two things I hate most,” said Coulibaly.
The Kouachi brothers were cornered in a print shop with their own hostages, and eventually all three attackers died in near-simultaneous police raids.
It was the first attack by the Islamic state group in Europe, and it hit Paris even more fatally later that year.
Boumeddiene, believed to be of Algerian descent, reportedly lived in Coulibaly’s apartment while he was in jail to partake in the Paris subway bomber Smain Ait Ali Belkacem plot.
According to Le MondeBoumeddiene said she and Coulibaly fired crossbows together in the countryside while on vacation visiting extremist Djamel Beghal, who claimed to have met Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan to plan a suicide attack.
During interrogation, she said she was inspired by her boyfriend and the radicals she lived with to “read many books on religion”.
Six weeks after the trial, in October, a French school teacher who opened a debate on free speech by showing students the cartoons of Muhammad was beheaded by an 18-year-old Chechen refugee.
Eight weeks after the trial, a young Tunisian armed with a knife and carrying a copy of the Koran attacked worshipers in a church in the southern city of Nice, killing three.