Europe

Charlie Hebdo trial suspended after primary suspect tests coronavirus positive

PARIS (AFP) – The primary suspect in a trial over the 2015 Charlie Hebdo massacre has tested positive for coronavirus and the court has been suspended until Wednesday (Nov 4), lawyers said.

Ali Riza Polat is accused of having helped the killers of 12 people in the 2015 attack on satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo, a female police officer a day later and four hostages at a Jewish supermarket.

He is facing the most serious charge of the suspected accomplices on trial – complicity in terrorist crimes – and could face life in jail if convicted.

The 35-year-old vomited and was seen by a doctor, prompting the judge to suspend the court until next week.

The 10 accused accomplices must now be tested and “the resumption of the trial will depend on the results of these tests and the development of the health of the people concerned”, presiding judge Regis de Jorna said in an e-mail to lawyers on Saturday.

He urged everyone in court to observe social distancing, and insisted all participants must wear a mask.

The suspension of the hearing will delay the conclusion of the trial, which opened on Sept 2.

Defence lawyers were scheduled to plead on Nov 6, 9, 10 and 11 with the verdict expected on Nov 13.

Fourteen people are on trial in the special terrorism court over their support for the Islamist trio who attacked in January 2015. All of the attackers were shot dead by police.

Described as the “right arm” of attacker Amedy Coulibaly, Polat was born in Istanbul but moved to France when he was three and like Coulibaly grew up in the city of Grande Borne in Grigny, in the suburbs of Paris.

France returned to lockdown on Friday after a sharp rise in coronavirus cases, in the latest measure to curb a disease that has infected more than 44.5 million people worldwide and killed nearly 1.2 million.

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