France 2015 terror attacks: Who are the suspects going on trial?

The trial begins on Wednesday for the 14 alleged accomplices in the January 2015 terror attacks on French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo and a Jewish supermarket.

The wave of terror spanning three days in January 2015 saw a total of 17 people killed, including France’s famed cartoonists, police officers and Jewish shoppers.

It started on January 7, 2015, when brothers Said and Cherif Kouachi went on a gun rampage in the offices of Charlie Hebdo, a weekly magazine that is known for its cartoons on religion and politics that test the limits of what society deems acceptable. They killed 12 people, including an officer who was patrolling the area.

The next morning Amedy Coulibaly, an acquaintance of Cherif Kouachi killed a female police officer. On January 9, he killed four men at the Hyper Cacher Jewish supermarket in the east of Paris.

Police shot Coulibaly and the Kouachi brothers dead in separate standoffs.

But who are the 14 going to trial on Wednesday? And how are they linked to the attackers?

Only 11 suspects will be present. The three others are being tried in absentia and are believed to have fled to northern Syria and Iraq, which was at the time under the control of the so-called Islamic State (IS) group. It is unknown if they are still alive.

They are:

Hayat Boumedienne

She is Coulibaly’s ex-wife and married him in 2008.

The Paris court is prosecuting her for “criminal terrorist association,” which is punishable by a 20-year jail term. She is also accused of financing terrorism for mounting several scams to help her husband pay for the logistics of the attacks.

Boumedienne appeared on the radar in October 2019 and was at the time reported as alive.

Mohamed and Mehdi Belhoucine

The eldest brother Mohamed faces the most serious charge of “complicity in terrorist crimes”.

Authorities believe he was an ideological mentor for Coulibaly. They met at a prison in Seine-Saint-Denis, north of Paris. He allegedly opened the channels of communication for him to be in contact with the Islamic State group and wrote the oath of allegiance that Coulibaly made to IS.

Belhoucine studied at the prestigious engineering university Ecole de Mines Albi-Carmaux.

His younger brother, Mehdi, is accused of helping Boumedienne escape from France.

The brothers’ deaths have not been proven.

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