SHARE
COPY LINK

CRIME

French magazine Charlie Hebdo to republish controversial Mohammed cartoons as terror trials start

French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo, the target of a massacre by Islamist gunmen in January 2015, said on Tuesday that it was republishing hugely controversial cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed to mark the start of the trial this week of alleged accomplices in the attack.

French magazine Charlie Hebdo to republish controversial Mohammed cartoons as terror trials start
A tribute to the Charlie Hebdo staff killed in the attack. Photo: AFP

“We will never lie down. We will never give up,” wrote its director Laurent “Riss” Sourisseau in an editorial to go with the republication of the cartoons in its latest edition.

Twelve people, including some of France's most celebrated cartoonists, were killed on January 7th, 2015, when brothers Said and Cherif Kouachi went on a gun rampage at the paper's offices.

The trial had been delayed several months due to the coronavirus epidemic.

The court in Paris will sit until November 10th and, in a first for a terror trial, proceedings will be filmed for archival purposes given public interest.

Of the 14 suspects, three are being tried in absentia: Hayat Boumedienne, the partner of Coulibaly, and the Belhoucine brothers Mohamed and Mehdi.

All three are believed to have travelled to the area of northern Syria and Iraq that at the time was under IS control.

Reports have suggested they are dead but this has never been confirmed and they remain subject to arrest warrants.

Facing the most serious charge of complicity in terror and a maximum sentence of life in jail, are Mohamed Belhoucine, the elder of the two brothers, and Ali Riza Polat, 35, a French citizen of Turkish origin who will be the most prominent of the accused in the dock.

Polat, seen as close to Coulibaly, is suspected of having played a central role in preparing the attacks, notably by helping to build up the arsenal used by the three perpetrators.

He is also accused of providing help “at all stages of the preparation”.

Just after the attacks, he repeatedly tried to leave France for Syria but has been held since March 2015.

Mohamed Belhoucine is accused of being the ideological mentor of Coulibaly after meeting him in jail, opening up channels of communication for him to IS and writing the oath of allegiance that Coulibaly made to the group.

Most of the other suspects are on trial for association with a terror group, a crime that comes with a jail sentence of up to 20 years.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.

ENVIRONMENT

France to probe microplastic pellet pollution on Atlantic beaches

French prosecutors said on Friday they would investigate the appearance of vast quantities of tiny toxic plastic pellets along the Atlantic coast that endanger marine life and the human food chain.

France to probe microplastic pellet pollution on Atlantic beaches

The criminal probe will follow several legal complaints about the pellet invasion lodged by local authorities and the central government in Paris, Camille Miansoni, chief prosecutor in the western city of Brest, told AFP.

The microscopic pellets, called nurdles, are the building blocks for most of the world’s plastic production, from car bumpers to salad bowls.

They are usually packed in bags of 25 kilogrammes for transport, each containing around a million nurdles, which are sometimes called “Mermaids’ Tears”. 

But they can easily spill into the ocean when a cargo ship sinks or loses a container. Environmentalists also suspect that factories sometimes dump them into the sea.

Fish and birds often mistake them for food and, once ingested, the tiny granules can make their way into the diet of humans.

Experts told AFP the nurdles found along the coast of Brittany may have come from a plastic industry container that fell into the sea.

“We can’t rule out a single source for the industrial pellets,” said Nicolas Tamic at the CEDRE pollution research body in Brest.

On Tuesday, the French government filed a legal complaint against persons unknown and called for a international search for any containers that may have been lost at sea.

Local authorities have followed suit, and the environmental crime branch of the Brest prosecutor’s office will lead the investigation.

Last weekend, around 100 people took part in a clean-up campaign on a microplastic-infested beach in Pornic in Brittany to collect pellets and draw attention to the problem. 

“We think they’ve come from a container that may have been out there for a while and opened up because of recent storms,” said Lionel Cheylus, spokesman for the NGO Surfrider Foundation.

“Our action is symbolic. It’s not like we’re going to pick up an entire container load,” said Annick, a pensioner, as she filled her yoghurt pot with nurdles. 

French politicians have taken note. Joel Guerriau, a senator from the region, has called for a “clear international designation” of  the pellets as being harmful.

Ecological Transition Minister Christophe Bechu labelled the nurdles “an environmental nightmare”, telling AFP the government would support associations fighting pellet pollution.

Ingesting plastic is harmful for human health but nurdles, in addition, attract chemical contaminants found in the sea to their surface, making them even more toxic.

Measuring less than five millimetres in size, they are not always readily visible except when they wash up in unusually huge quantities, as has been the case since late November along the northwestern French coast.

SHOW COMMENTS