PARIS (Reuters) – An appeal trial will begin on Monday in a Paris court as two men found guilty of helping Islamist militants prepare the 2015 deadly attacks on the Charlie Hebdo satirical magazine and a Jewish supermarket in Paris seek to overturn their convictions.
The two men – Ali Riza Polat and Amar Ramdani – are among 14 convicted in December 2020 as accomplices of the attackers, who were themselves killed by police soon after the killings.
Polat and Ramdani have denied involvement in the attacks and are the only convicted accomplices to appeal. They received the heaviest sentences.
On Jan. 7, 2015, brothers Said and Cherif Kouachi went on a killing spree in the Paris offices of Charlie Hebdo, whose satire on race, religion and politics tested the limits of what society would accept in the name of free speech. They killed 12 in an attack claimed by al Qaeda.
The following day, Amedy Coulibaly, an acquaintance of Cherif Kouachi, killed a female police officer. Then, a day after that, he killed four Jewish men at a kosher supermarket. In a video, he said he acted in the name of Islamic State.
In the 2020 trial, Polat was sentenced to 30 years in prison after it was ruled he had helped the Kouachi brothers and Amedy Coulibaly secure weapons. Ramdani was given 20 years in prison for supplying weapons and financing the attacks.
The appeal trial is expected to last six weeks.
Charlie Hebdo lawyer Richard Malka told France Inter radio on Monday: “My role in this trial, as Charlie Hebdo lawyer, is to bring on the fight for free speech, the values that the terrorists tried to destroy …. My role, my duty is to always dig deeper to try to understand why this happened and how we can fight it.”
(Reporting by Sophie Louet and Dominique Vidalon; Editing by Bradley Perrett)