Monday, November 27, 2023
Six teenagers are set to face trial behind closed doors on Monday in connection with the shocking beheading of French history teacher Samuel Paty in 2020, a crime that deeply disturbed the nation.
The teacher had exhibited caricatures of the Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) during a class on freedom of expression, causing discontent among some Muslim parents who regard such depictions as blasphemous.
During the trial, a 13-year-old girl at the time, who initially claimed that Paty had instructed Muslim students to leave the room before presenting the caricatures, is now facing false accusation charges. It has been established that she was not present during the incident.
Paty, aged 47, met a tragic end outside his school in a Paris suburb, assaulted by an 18-year-old assailant of Chechen origin who was subsequently shot dead by the police. The five other minors, aged between 14 and 15 during the attack, are facing charges related to premeditated criminal conspiracy or ambush. They are suspected of either pointing out Paty to the murderer or aiding in monitoring his exit from the school.
All six minors, protected by anonymity due to their age, entered the court on Monday wearing hoodies to conceal their identities. Antoine Ory, a lawyer representing one of the accused, expressed his client's remorse and fear of facing Paty's family.
In a statement conveyed through lawyer Louis Cailliez, Paty's sister Mickaelle lamented the tragedy, stating that her brother would still be alive if not for a "fatal association of small cowardices, big lies." The hearings, scheduled to last until December 8, are being held behind closed doors.
Apart from the minors, eight adults also face accusations and will be presented before a special criminal court. The trial follows a recent incident, almost two years after Paty's killing, where a 20-year-old man fatally stabbed a teacher and severely injured two others in northern France, reigniting concerns about violence.
France, in recent years, has grappled with a series of attacks, including the notorious 2015 gun rampage at the offices of Charlie Hebdo, a satirical magazine that had published the same caricatures presented by Paty in his class.