Gunman’s fugitive widow convicted over 2015 Paris attacks

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The fugitive widow of a gunman and a man described as his logistician have been convicted of terrorism charges in the trial of 14 people linked to the January 2015 attacks in Paris.

It ends the three-month trial of the 14 people linked to the three days of killings across Paris claimed jointly by so-called Islamic State and al Qaida.

The attacks were launched against the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo and a kosher supermarket.

All three attackers died in police raids.

The widow, Hayat Boumeddiene, fled to Syria and is believed to still be alive.

France Attacks Trial
Police officers work at the scene of the kosher supermarket in Paris after the attack there (Francois Mori/AP)

Three of the 14 fled to Syria just ahead of the  attacks on January 7-9 2015, which left 17 dead along with the three gunmen – who claimed the killings in the names of al Qaida and Islamic State.

The other 11, all men, formed a circle of friends and prison acquaintances who claimed any facilitating they may have done was unwitting or for more run-of-the mill crimes such as armed robbery.

It was the coronavirus infection of Ali Riza Polat, described as the lieutenant of the virulently anti-Semitic market attacker, Amedy Coulibaly, that forced the suspension of the trial for a month.

Polat’s profane outbursts and insults drew rebukes from the chief judge.

A handwriting expert testified it was Polat who scrawled a price list of arms and munitions linked to the attack.

The minimum sentence requested by prosecutors is five years.

Among those giving evidence were the widows of Cherif and Said Kouachi, the brothers who stormed Charlie Hebdo’s offices on January 7 2015, decimating the newspaper’s editorial staff in what they said was an act of vengeance for its publication of caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad years before.

The offices had been firebombed before and were unmarked, and editors had round the clock protection – but it was not enough.

In all, 12 people died in that attack.

By then, the Kouachis were on the run.

Authorities did not link the shooting to the massacre at Charlie Hebdo immediately.

They were closing in on the fugitive brothers when the first alerts came of a gunman inside a kosher supermarket.

Coulibaly entered, carrying an assault rifle, pistols and explosives.

With a GoPro camera fixed to his torso, he methodically fired on an employee and a customer, then killed a second customer before ordering a cashier to close the store’s metal blinds, images shown to a hushed courtroom.

“You are Jews and French, the two things I hate the most,” Coulibaly told them.

Some 25 miles away, the Kouachi brothers were cornered in a printing shop with their own hostages.

Ultimately, all three attackers died in near-simultaneous police raids.

It was the first attack in Europe claimed by Islamic State, which struck Paris again later that year to even deadlier effect.

At the heart of the trial is who helped them and how.

Prosecutors said the Kouachis essentially self-financed their attack, while Coulibaly and his wife took out fraudulent loans.

Boumeddiene, the only woman on trial, fled to Syria days before the attack with two other absent defendants, Mohamed and Mehdi Belhoucine.

The brothers are believed to be dead.

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