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French trial starts for 14 defendants accused of aiding '15 terror attacks

by LORI HINNANT AND NICOLAS VAUX-MONTAGNY THE ASSOCIATED PRESS | September 3, 2020 at 4:33 a.m.

PARIS -- Thirteen men and a woman went on trial Wednesday in the 2015 attacks against the Charlie Hebdo satirical newspaper and a kosher supermarket in Paris that marked the beginning of a wave of violence by the Islamic State group in Europe.

Seventeen people and all three gunmen died during the three days of attacks in January 2015. Later that year, a separate network of French and Belgian fighters for the militant group struck Paris again, this time killing 130 people in attacks at the Bataclan concert hall, the national stadium, and in bars and restaurants.

Those on trial in France's terrorism court are accused of buying weapons, cars, and helping with logistics in the January 2015 attacks. Most say they thought they were helping plan an ordinary crime. Three, including the only woman accused, are being tried in absentia after leaving to join ISIS.

The attacks from Jan. 7-9, 2015, started during an editorial meeting at Charlie Hebdo, whose offices had been unmarked and guarded by police since the publication of caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad years before. Brothers Cherif and Said Kouachi gunned down 12 people before carjacking a vehicle and fleeing. They claimed the attacks in the name of al-Qaida.

Two days later, on the eve of the Jewish Sabbath, Amedy Coulibaly stormed the Hyper Cacher supermarket, killing four hostages and invoking the Islamic State group as the Kouachi brothers took control of a printing office outside the French capital.

It took days more for investigators to realize that Coulibaly was also responsible for the seemingly random death of a young policewoman the previous day.

"The government failed. If the intelligence services had done their job, this would not have happened," said Isabelle Coutant-Peyre, lawyer for the only defendant in court facing a life term. "The victims don't just want a guilty verdict, but real justice. The truth must come out."

Wednesday's trial opened under tight security, with several police checks for the main courtroom and the overflow rooms. At nearby newsstands, the latest issue of Charlie Hebdo appeared, reprinting the caricatures of the Prophet Muhammed cited by the gunmen who killed so many of the publication's editorial staff.

Turkey condemned Charlie Hebdo's decision to republish the cartoon, saying "the insult and disrespect toward Muslims" cannot be justified as art or within the scope of freedom of expression.

Information for this article was contributed by Angela Charlton of The Associated Press.

Chairman of the Representative Council of French Jewish Institutions (Crif) Francis Kalifat, center, leaves the courtroom after the opening of the 2015 attacks trial, Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2020 in Paris. Thirteen men and a woman go on trial Wednesday over the 2015 attacks against a satirical newspaper and a kosher supermarket in Paris that marked the beginning of a wave of violence by the Islamic State group in Europe. Seventeen people and all three gunmen died during the three days of attacks in January 2015. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)
Chairman of the Representative Council of French Jewish Institutions (Crif) Francis Kalifat, center, leaves the courtroom after the opening of the 2015 attacks trial, Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2020 in Paris. Thirteen men and a woman go on trial Wednesday over the 2015 attacks against a satirical newspaper and a kosher supermarket in Paris that marked the beginning of a wave of violence by the Islamic State group in Europe. Seventeen people and all three gunmen died during the three days of attacks in January 2015. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)
Dr. Patrick Pelloux, who arrived shortly after the shooting at satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo, is checked for security outside the courtroom during the opening of the 2015 attacks trial, Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2020 in Paris. Thirteen men and a woman go on trial Wednesday over the 2015 attacks against a satirical newspaper and a kosher supermarket in Paris that marked the beginning of a wave of violence by the Islamic State group in Europe. Seventeen people and all three gunmen died during the three days of attacks in January 2015.(AP Photo/Francois Mori)
Dr. Patrick Pelloux, who arrived shortly after the shooting at satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo, is checked for security outside the courtroom during the opening of the 2015 attacks trial, Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2020 in Paris. Thirteen men and a woman go on trial Wednesday over the 2015 attacks against a satirical newspaper and a kosher supermarket in Paris that marked the beginning of a wave of violence by the Islamic State group in Europe. Seventeen people and all three gunmen died during the three days of attacks in January 2015.(AP Photo/Francois Mori)
Lassana Bathily, center, who saved lives during the attack of a kosher supermarket in 2015, arrives at the courtroom for the opening of the 2015 attacks trial, Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2020 in Paris. Thirteen men and a woman go on trial Wednesday over the 2015 attacks against a satirical newspaper and a kosher supermarket in Paris that marked the beginning of a wave of violence by the Islamic State group in Europe. Seventeen people and all three gunmen died during the three days of attacks in January 2015. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)
Lassana Bathily, center, who saved lives during the attack of a kosher supermarket in 2015, arrives at the courtroom for the opening of the 2015 attacks trial, Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2020 in Paris. Thirteen men and a woman go on trial Wednesday over the 2015 attacks against a satirical newspaper and a kosher supermarket in Paris that marked the beginning of a wave of violence by the Islamic State group in Europe. Seventeen people and all three gunmen died during the three days of attacks in January 2015. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)
Gala Renaud, widow of Michel Renaud who was killed in Charlie Hebdo office, arrives at the courtroom on the opening day of the 2015 attacks trial, Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2020 in Paris. Thirteen men and a woman go on trial Wednesday over the 2015 attacks against a satirical newspaper and a kosher supermarket in Paris that marked the beginning of a wave of violence by the Islamic State group in Europe. Seventeen people and all three gunmen died during the three days of attacks in January 2015. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)
Gala Renaud, widow of Michel Renaud who was killed in Charlie Hebdo office, arrives at the courtroom on the opening day of the 2015 attacks trial, Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2020 in Paris. Thirteen men and a woman go on trial Wednesday over the 2015 attacks against a satirical newspaper and a kosher supermarket in Paris that marked the beginning of a wave of violence by the Islamic State group in Europe. Seventeen people and all three gunmen died during the three days of attacks in January 2015. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)
People wearing a protective face masks as a precaution against the coronavirus walk past the kosher supermarket in Paris Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2020, who was attack by jihadist gunmen in January 2015. Thirteen men and a woman go on trial Wednesday over the 2015 attacks against a satirical newspaper and a kosher supermarket in Paris that marked the beginning of a wave of violence by the Islamic State group in Europe. Seventeen people and all three gunmen died during the three days of attacks in January 2015. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)
People wearing a protective face masks as a precaution against the coronavirus walk past the kosher supermarket in Paris Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2020, who was attack by jihadist gunmen in January 2015. Thirteen men and a woman go on trial Wednesday over the 2015 attacks against a satirical newspaper and a kosher supermarket in Paris that marked the beginning of a wave of violence by the Islamic State group in Europe. Seventeen people and all three gunmen died during the three days of attacks in January 2015. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)
Journalists gather in the hall of the Paris Hall of Justice for the opening of the 2015 attacks trial, Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2020 in Paris. Thirteen men and a woman go on trial Wednesday over the 2015 attacks against a satirical newspaper and a kosher supermarket in Paris that marked the beginning of a wave of violence by the Islamic State group in Europe. Seventeen people and all three gunmen died during the three days of attacks in January 2015. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)
Journalists gather in the hall of the Paris Hall of Justice for the opening of the 2015 attacks trial, Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2020 in Paris. Thirteen men and a woman go on trial Wednesday over the 2015 attacks against a satirical newspaper and a kosher supermarket in Paris that marked the beginning of a wave of violence by the Islamic State group in Europe. Seventeen people and all three gunmen died during the three days of attacks in January 2015. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)
Chloe Verlhac, widow of Charlie Hebdo cartoonist Tignous, arrives at the courtroom for the opening of the 2015 attacks trial, Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2020 in Paris. Thirteen men and a woman go on trial Wednesday over the 2015 attacks against a satirical newspaper and a kosher supermarket in Paris that marked the beginning of a wave of violence by the Islamic State group in Europe. Seventeen people and all three gunmen died during the three days of attacks in January 2015. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)
Chloe Verlhac, widow of Charlie Hebdo cartoonist Tignous, arrives at the courtroom for the opening of the 2015 attacks trial, Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2020 in Paris. Thirteen men and a woman go on trial Wednesday over the 2015 attacks against a satirical newspaper and a kosher supermarket in Paris that marked the beginning of a wave of violence by the Islamic State group in Europe. Seventeen people and all three gunmen died during the three days of attacks in January 2015. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)
Satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo's chief editor, Laurent Sourisseau, known as Riss, center, arrives at the courtroom for the opening of the 2015 attacks trial, Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2020 in Paris. Thirteen men and a woman go on trial Wednesday over the 2015 attacks against a satirical newspaper and a kosher supermarket in Paris that marked the beginning of a wave of violence by the Islamic State group in Europe. Seventeen people and all three gunmen died during the three days of attacks in January 2015. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)
Satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo's chief editor, Laurent Sourisseau, known as Riss, center, arrives at the courtroom for the opening of the 2015 attacks trial, Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2020 in Paris. Thirteen men and a woman go on trial Wednesday over the 2015 attacks against a satirical newspaper and a kosher supermarket in Paris that marked the beginning of a wave of violence by the Islamic State group in Europe. Seventeen people and all three gunmen died during the three days of attacks in January 2015. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)
A man wearing a protective face mask as a precaution against the coronavirus looks on a painting by French street artist Christian Guemy, a.k.a. 'C215' in Paris Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2020, in tribute to the members of the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo attack by jihadist gunmen in January 2015. Thirteen men and a woman go on trial Wednesday over the 2015 attacks against a satirical newspaper and a kosher supermarket in Paris that marked the beginning of a wave of violence by the Islamic State group in Europe. Seventeen people and all three gunmen died during the three days of attacks in January 2015. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)
A man wearing a protective face mask as a precaution against the coronavirus looks on a painting by French street artist Christian Guemy, a.k.a. 'C215' in Paris Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2020, in tribute to the members of the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo attack by jihadist gunmen in January 2015. Thirteen men and a woman go on trial Wednesday over the 2015 attacks against a satirical newspaper and a kosher supermarket in Paris that marked the beginning of a wave of violence by the Islamic State group in Europe. Seventeen people and all three gunmen died during the three days of attacks in January 2015. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)
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