Teenagers in court over beheading of French teacher

Henry

The six teenagers linked to the beheading of French teacher Samuel Paty in 2020 will appear in court in Paris today for the start of their trial.

This is the first of two trials in this case that rocked France at the time.

RNews earlier reported that Paty was publicly beheaded in Paris in October 2020 after he showed caricatures of the Muslim prophet Muhammad in a class during a discussion about freedom of expression. Eleven people were arrested after Paty’s murder, which was labeled an Islamic terrorist act.

The 47-year-old teacher was stabbed before he was decapitated near the school in Conflans-Sainte-Honorine (a suburb of Paris) where he worked as a Geography teacher.

His attacker, Abdoullakh Anzorov, was shot dead at the scene by police officers. Anzorov, an 18-year-old Chechen born in Moscow, killed Paty after messages circulated on social media showing pictures of Paty wearing caricatures of Muhammad from the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo show.

The schoolgirl, whose father launched the online hate campaign against Paty at the time, admitted after the murder that she wasn’t even in class when Paty showed the pictures. Paty used these pictures as part of an ethics class to discuss French legislation regarding freedom of speech. Defamation is legal in France and caricatures that make fun of religious figures have a long history in this country.

At the time, the schoolgirl claimed Paty asked Muslim learners to leave the class when he showed the cartoons to the class. In light of this allegation, the child’s father lodged a complaint against Paty and apparently spread the allegations online.

The murder of Paty followed soon after Charlie Hebdo published the caricatures for a second time. When the magazine first published it in 2015, Islamist attackers stormed the magazine’s office with guns and killed 12 people.

The teenagers who will be tried on Monday are accused of being complicit in Paty’s murder.

Five of the teenagers have been charged with conspiracy to commit violence and are accused of watching Paty and tipping her off to the killer in exchange for money. They were respectively 14 and 15 years old when the murder was committed.

The sixth teenager, who was only 13 at the time, is the girl who admitted she lied about the incident.

The Paty family’s legal representatives say the teenagers’ role in Paty’s death is important, as their actions led to Paty’s death according to the family.

The trial is expected to continue until December 8.