French court tries seven for link to deadly supermarket attack

Defendants alleged to have known about Radouane Lakdim's plans to stage the attack in southern France in 2018

Seven people will stand trial in Paris for their alleged involvement in the 2018 attacks in Carcassonne and Trebes during which four people were killed. AFP
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Seven people have gone on trial in Paris over their links to an ISIS supporter who killed four people during an attack on a supermarket in southern France in 2018.

Radouane Lakdim, 25, a Moroccan-born French national known to antiterror police, killed four people in the towns of Carcassonne and Trebes, including police officer Arnaud Beltrame, who had taken the place of one of those taken hostage.

The attacker was shot dead by police.

All seven defendants appeared before the 'Palais de Justice' in Paris for the trial, which is expected to last until next month.

The accused, the assailant's then-girlfriend and six men have been charged with “criminal terrorist conspiracy”, for which they could face up to 30 years in prison.

One of the accused failed to appear in court. The judge ordered him to be brought in by force.

Prosecutors argue that Lakdim's then 18-year-old girlfriend Marine Pequignot, a radicalised Muslim convert, knew he was capable of such an attack.

She told investigators he owned “five or six machetes and knives”, “two shotguns” and “a pistol” and often said how he was going to lose his temper with “unbelievers”.

Samir Manaa, 28, is accused of having accompanied Lakdim to buy the knife with which he dealt a fatal blow to the police officer.

Reda el-Yaakoubi, 34, has been accused of “materially and financially” helping Lakdim to carry out the assault by giving him work dealing drugs in the knowledge he had extremist ideas.

Lakdim regularly bragged that he would one day be on the rolling news channel BFM TV for “killing unbelievers” and posed with weapons in pictures posted to social media, according to acquaintances.

The trial was set to last until February 23.

On March 23, 2018, Lakdim stole a car in the medieval town of Carcassonne, killing the passenger, before driving to a supermarket in nearby Trebes.

He shot the store's chief butcher and a customer, before taking a woman hostage. In a call to the police, he presented himself as a “corporal of the Islamic State” group.

Mr Beltrame, 44, was among the forces who tried to help, taking the woman's place as a human shield and hoping to negotiate.

Lakdim stabbed him in the neck. Mr Beltrame died in hospital of his wounds.

President Emmanuel Macron hailed the police officer as the “French spirit of resistance” and he was given a state funeral.

ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack, but investigators had said Lakdim had no communication with the group, and the claim was opportunistic.

Updated: January 22, 2024, 4:58 PM