French trial opens for suspect in 2016 police killings

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French trial opens for suspect in 2016 police killings
Candles put on the picture in 2016 of French policeman Jean-Baptiste Salvaing and his partner Jessica Schneider who were killed. (Photo by DOMINIQUE FAGET / AFP)

A French court opened a trial on Monday against the suspected accomplice of the man who in 2016 killed a couple, both police officers, at home outside Paris in front of their child in a crime that shocked the country.


Mohamed Lamine Aberouz, 30, is accused of complicity in killing a public official, terrorist conspiracy and complicity in illegal detention, with the maximum penalty life in prison.

Wearing a white T-shirt, with long hair tied back and a beard without moustache, he confirmed his name to the packed courtroom before the plaintiffs' statements.

Jean-Baptiste Salvaing, 42, and his partner Jessica Schneider, 36, a police administrative worker, were stabbed to death at their home in Magnanville northwest of Paris.

The defendant has maintained his innocence since he was charged in 2017.

He says he was at prayers the night of the attack, France's first-ever killings of off-duty police officers at their home.

The killer, 25-year-old Larossi Abballa, was shot dead when a specialist response unit stormed the house to free the couple's three-year-old child, who he was holding hostage and witnessed the killings.

Abballa was a follower of the Islamic State jihadist group.


Prosecutors argue that Aberouz was the one who singled out Salvaing and Schneider to Abballa as targets for the attack, visiting the house with the killer to identify them to him in photos stored on their computer.

His DNA was found on the wrist rest of their machine, which was also used to announce the couple had been killed.

No other trace of his presence at the scene of the crime has been found, Aberouz's defenders point out.

His lawyers say Abballa was a "lone wolf" under police surveillance and with a past conviction for conspiracy to prepare terrorist acts.

But investigators argue that Aberouz and Abballa "were both motivated by the same ideology in favour of armed jihad".

They found out that Aberouz had been in contact through Abballa with a young woman, Sarah Hervouet, who has been jailed for 20 years for knifing a plain-clothes police officer in 2016.


He has already been sentenced to five years for failing to report a terrorist crime -- Hervouet's attempted car bomb attack near the Notre-Dame cathedral in central Paris.

France was from 2015 hit by a spate of attacks carried out by radical Islamists inspired by Islamic State, including the November 2015 suicide and gun attacks on Paris that left 130 dead.


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