Six youngsters went on trial in Paris on Monday over accusations they had been related to the homicide of Samuel Paty, a historical past instructor whose beheading by an Islamist extremist in 2020 inflicted lasting trauma on France.
The defendants, former middle-school college students on the faculty the place Mr. Paty taught, are accused of serving to the killer determine and monitor the instructor, though they aren’t believed to have recognized that he meant to kill.
Officials haven’t publicly named the defendants and they’re being tried behind closed doorways at a legal courtroom for minors in Paris. They resist two and a half years in jail.
A separate trial for eight adults who’ve been charged within the case is anticipated to be held subsequent yr.
Mr. Paty, 47, had proven caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad to a civics class as an instance free speech and was subsequently beheaded due to the act on Oct. 16, 2020, close to the college the place he labored in Conflans-Sainte-Honorine, a northwestern suburb of Paris. The assailant, Abdoullakh Anzorov, an 18-year-old Russian of Chechen descent, was shot and killed by the police later that very same day.
Mr. Paty’s killing deeply shocked France, the place academics play an important function in imparting the French Republic’s values of liberty, equality, fraternity and secularism. Teachers like Mr. Paty are seen as the primary line of protection of a public, secular faculty system that many worry is more and more underneath risk from Islamic extremism.
Just final month, nearly three years to the day after Mr. Paty’s homicide, one other instructor, Dominique Bernard, 57, who taught French literature, was killed at his faculty in northern France in ominously related circumstances. The suspect in that case is a former pupil on the faculty, a 20-year-old Russian immigrant who prosecutors say pledged allegiance to the Islamic State earlier than occurring a stabbing spree during which he additionally injured three different individuals.
The trial that began on Monday will run till Dec. 8. It is closed to the media, and reporters are legally barred from disclosing the id of the defendants or from giving accounts of the proceedings.
Prosecutors have accused 5 of the defendants, who had been ages 14 to fifteen on the time of the killing, of serving to Mr. Anzorov determine and monitor Mr. Paty, together with by retaining watch exterior their faculty, by telling Mr. Anzorov what he seemed like, and by pointing him out as he left faculty. The youngsters have been charged with legal conspiracy to arrange a violent assault.
Lawyers for the defendants have argued that their shoppers are consumed by guilt over the instructor’s demise and that they didn’t know on the time that Mr. Anzorov meant to kill Mr. Paty. Mr. Anzorov had stalked Mr. Paty’s faculty the day of the killing and had enlisted the youngsters’ assist in alternate for about $330, telling them he wished to confront the instructor and drive him to apologize.
Antoine Ory, a lawyer for one of many teenage defendants, mentioned on the courthouse on Monday that his consumer “has been gripped by remorse for the past three years.”
The sixth defendant, a woman who was 13 on the time of the killing, has been charged with making false allegations in opposition to Mr. Paty.
Mr. Paty, who taught civics, had proven the scholars caricatures printed by the satirical journal Charlie Hebdo — itself the goal of a bloodbath in 2015 — as an instance the proper to blasphemy, free speech and freedom of conscience.
Prosecutors have mentioned the woman advised her mother and father that Mr. Paty had singled out Muslim college students within the classroom, asking them to depart earlier than he confirmed the caricatures. In actuality, the woman had not attended that class and Mr. Paty had not ordered Muslim college students to exit.
The woman, who had been given a two-day suspension from faculty for unrelated causes, advised her mother and father as an alternative that she had been punished for complaining to Mr. Paty in regards to the caricatures.
But the woman’s false account, prosecutors have mentioned, set off a tragic chain response. Her father, Brahim Chnina, unfold the claims on social media. When Mr. Anzorov, who lived practically 60 miles away, discovered of the controversy, he then got down to kill Mr. Paty. Prosecutors mentioned on the time that he contacted Mr. Chnina repeatedly.
Louis Cailliez, a lawyer for one in all Mr. Paty’s sisters, advised reporters on the courthouse on Monday that he hoped the trial would decide the youngsters’ stage of accountability in what he referred to as “a fatal combination of small cowardice and big lies.”
Mr. Chnina and Abdelhakim Sefrioui, an Islamist activist who filmed on-line movies calling Mr. Paty an anti-Muslim “thug” and demanding that he be fired, are amongst six adults scheduled to face trial at a later date on fees of organizing a legal terrorist conspiracy.
Two different adults, associates of Mr. Anzorov who’re accused of serving to him purchase weapons and driving him to the college, have been charged with complicity within the homicide.