Samuel Paty: 6 teens go on trial for beheading French teacher over Islamophobic cartoon

An image of Samuel Paty. — French police The first legal proceedings in a case that shocked France began on Monday, with six teenagers going on behind-closed-doors trial in Paris for their roles in the 2020 beheading of teacher Samuel Paty.

Before entering the juvenile court, the suspects—some of whom were dressed in surgical masks and sunglasses—arrived with their jackets pulled over their faces to hide their identities.

Due to the young ages of the defendants at the time of the occurrences (between 13 and 15 years old), the trial was being held behind closed doors.

The hearing is only open to those who are directly impacted by the case. The press is prohibited from reporting anything spoken in the courtroom, not even by citing solicitors, and is not permitted entry. The courtroom is supervised by police officers.

Paty’s family members were allowed entry into the courtroom, along with about ten of his teacher colleagues who expressed their intention to represent the plaintiffs in the lawsuit.

The 47-year-old history and geography teacher was stabbed and then beheaded near his secondary school in the Paris suburb of Conflans-Sainte-Honorine on October 16, 2020.

His attacker, 18-year-old Chechen refugee Abdoullakh Anzorov, was shot dead at the scene by police.

On October 16, 2020, the 47-year-old history and geography teacher in the Paris district of Conflans-Sainte-Honorine was attacked and then decapitated close to his secondary school.

Police shot and killed his assailant, 18-year-old Abdoullakh Anzorov, a Chechen refugee, on the spot.

Following social media comments circulating claiming the instructor had shown students cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) from the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, the young boy killed Paty.

The boy murdered Dominique Bernard, a different teacher, in the northern French city of Arras last month.

Mohammed Moguchkov, the man suspected of killing Bernard, was also from the mostly Muslim North Caucasus area of Russia, like Anzorov.

‘Role of the minors’ Five teenagers, who were either 14 or 15 years old when Paty was killed, are charged with criminal conspiracy with the aim to commit harm.

They are charged with keeping an eye out for Paty and providing the killer with his identity in return for cash.

The sixth adolescent, a thirteen-year-old girl at the time, is charged with making up a story that falsely claims Paty ordered Muslim pupils to identify themselves and vacate the classroom before he displayed the drawings. She wasn’t in the classroom.

Her head was entirely covered by the hood of her black down jacket when she entered the courtroom.

The Paty family’s attorney, Louis Cailliez, stated that he anticipated the defence team to rationalise the defendant’s acts as “errors of youth”.

However, he added, the trial had to clarify “the true reasons why these pupils committed the unforgivable”.

“He is eaten up with remorse,” said one of the defendants’ lawyers, Antoine Ory, about his client. “He is terrified, very worried about coming face to face with Samuel Paty’s family.”

Eight adults who are also involved in the case will be on trial in late 2024.

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