France is seeking lengthy sentences for suspected accomplices in the Charlie Hebdo attack

Prosecutors on Tuesday sought harsh sentences from five years to life in prison for 14 suspected accomplices of Islamist armed men who murdered cartoonists and killed hostages in a Jewish supermarket in Paris in 2015.

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

One of the three attackers, who were all killed by police in firearms, also shot dead a policewoman.

Those facing trial since September are accused of providing varying degrees of logistical support to Charlie Hebdo killers Cherif and Said Kouachi and hostage-taker Amedy Coulibaly in the supermarket. They deny the allegations.

Three of the 14 suspects, who are between 29 and 68 years old and include Coulibaly’s girlfriend Hayat Boumeddiene, are being tried in absentia.

Boumeddiene fled to Syria shortly after the attacks. Her whereabouts are unknown.

Trial️ The trial of 14 suspects linked to the 2015 attacks on the French satirical magazine #CharlieHebdo is now in its final stages, with a verdict due next week.

The defendants can be sentenced to ten years in prison. @Sharon_Gaffney has more from the courthouse pic.twitter.com/pZaEJPtpAD

– JowharEnglish (@ France24_en) 8 December 2020

Prosecutors sought the life of Ali Riza Polat, a 35-year-old French-Turkish citizen, who was presented during the trial as Coulibaly’s “right hand man” accused of helping him and the Kouachi brothers secure weapons.

Polat admitted before the court that he had participated in various “frauds” but denied any knowledge of what Coulibaly, who had sworn allegiance to the Islamic State, and his accomplices were planning.

Polat’s co-accused, including two men who spent time in prison with Coulibaly, also denied any involvement in the attacks and denied allegations of being radicalized.

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

The attack marked the beginning of a long series of terrorist attacks in France, many of them carried out by young French supporters of Islamic State.

After the trial began, the caricatures were the focus of another deadly attack in October, in which a young Chechen refugee beheaded teacher Samuel Paty for showing some of the caricatures to students in a class on freedom of speech.

(AFP)