French prosecutors seek lengthy jail terms for 'Charlie Hebdo' attack suspects

Fourteen people on trial accused of providing support to extremist gunmen during the Paris attacks in 2015

PARIS, FRANCE - JANUARY 07:  Ambulances and police officers gather in front of the offices of the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo on January 7, 2015 in Paris, France. Armed gunmen stormed the offices leaving twelve dead, including two police officers, according to French officials.  (Photo by Antoine Antoniol/Getty Images)
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Prosecutors on Tuesday sought stiff sentences, from five years to life in jail, for 14 suspected accomplices of the extremist gunmen who murdered cartoonists and killed hostages at a Jewish supermarket in Paris in 2015.

Sixteen people were killed in the attack at the offices of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo – which had published cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed – and during a hostage-taking three days later.

One of the three assailants, all of whom were killed by police in shootouts, also shot dead a female police officer.

(FILES(FILES) A file court sketch created on October 26, 2020 shows Ali Riza Polat, who is believed to have been the right-hand man of Amedy Coulibaly, who killed a police officer in January 2015 and the next day shot dead four people at a Jewish supermarket, and his lawyer Isabelle Coutant-Peyre (L) at Paris' courthouse during the trial of 14 people suspected of being accomplices in the Charlie Hebdo and Hyper Cacher jihadist killings. After a three-week interruption due to the main accused, Ali Riza Polat testing positive to Covid-19, the trial of the January 2015 attacks is due to resume on November 23, 2020 before the Special Assize Court in Paris. - ----IMAGE RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - STRICTLY NO COMMERCIAL USE-----
A court sketch shows Ali Riza Polat, who is alleged to have been the right-hand man of Paris attacker Amedy Coulibaly. AFP.

The 14, on trial since September, are accused of providing varying degrees of logistical support to killers Cherif and Said Kouachi and supermarket hostage-taker Amedy Coulibaly. They deny the charges.

Three of the suspects, who range in age from 29 to 68 and include Coulibaly's girlfriend Hayat Boumeddiene, are being tried in their absence.

She fled to Syria shortly after the attacks and her current whereabouts are not known.

This screengrab taken on January 11, 2015 from a video released on Islamist social networks shows a man allegedly claiming to be Amedy Coulibaly, who is suspected of killing a policewoman in Montrouge on January 8 and four hostages after seizing a Kosher supermarket in Paris on January 9, 2015. Coulibaly is also said to have been in close contact with the Kouachi brothers who killed twelve people during an attack on French Magazine Charlie Hebdo on January 8. AFP PHOTO / OFF -- EDITORS NOTE --- RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE -- MANDATORY CREDIT "AFP PHOTO / NO MARKETING - NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS -- DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS (Photo by - / OFF TV / AFP)
Amedy Coulibaly killed a policewoman and took four hostages after seizing a Kosher supermarket in Paris on January 9, 2015. AFP.

Prosecutors want a life term for Ali Riza Polat, 35, a French-Turkish citizen, presented during the trial as Coulibaly's "right-hand man" and accused of helping him and the Kouachi brothers secure weapons.

Mr Polat admitted to the court he had taken part in various scams but denied any knowledge of what Coulibaly, who had sworn allegiance to the ISIS terrorist group, and his accomplices were planning.

Mr Polat's co-accused, including two men who spent time in jail with Coulibaly, also denied any role in the attacks and rejected allegations of being radicalised.

The killing of the cartoonists caused deep shock in secular France, which has a tradition of anti-clerical satire.

The attacks marked the start of a long series of terrorist assaults in France, many of them carried out by young French supporters of ISIS.

Close to the start of the trial, the cartoons were at the centre of another deadly attack in October, with a young Chechen refugee beheading teacher Samuel Paty for showing some of the caricatures to pupils in a class on free speech.

The trial continues.