Published on Nov 27, 2023 at 11:19 a.m.Updated Nov. 27, 2023 at 2:58 p.m.
Shortly before 9 a.m. this Monday, the young defendants arrived at the children’s court in Paris. Their faces camouflaged under their coats, some wearing sungles or surgical masks, they are accompanied by their parents and their lawyers.
The six former college students from the Conflans-Sainte-Honorine establishment (Yvelines) are on trial for their involvement in the ination, on October 16, 2020, of Professor Samuel Paty by a young jihadist. The trial, which is being held behind closed doors, is scheduled to last until December 8. Another trial, for the adults involved in this case, is scheduled for the end of 2024.
Teachers made civil parties?
Before them, certain relatives of Samuel Paty, including his parents, entered the courtroom with closed faces, as well as around ten former colleagues of the professor, who want to become civil parties to the trial, despite the opposition from the national anti-terrorism prosecution. A “late step” that “does not understand at all” Mickaëlle Paty, a sister of the professor, who believes that “their support for their colleague was far from obvious”, according to her lawyer, Me Louis Cailliez.
Shortly before the trial opened, the Ministry of National Education had already announced that it would become a civil party. “This seems essential to me to strongly reaffirm our desire to defend the values of the Republic that Samuel Paty embodied, but also to express my unwavering support for the entire teaching staff, deeply wounded by the barbaric ination of their colleague,” declared Gabriel Attal, the minister.
The emotion provoked by this crime was notably revived by the ination in mid-October of another professor, Dominique Bernard, killed in Arras in the north of France by a young radicalized Islamist.
A terrible cogwheel
The attack targeting Samuel Paty, which occurred against a backdrop of a high terrorist threat, caused immense excitement in France and abroad. On October 16, 2020, the 47-year-old history and geography teacher was stabbed and then beheaded near his college in Conflans-Sainte-Honorine by Abdoullakh Anzorov, a Russian refugee of Chechen origin. This 18-year-old radicalized Islamist was killed immediately by the police. He criticized the professor for showing caricatures of Mohammed during a lesson on freedom of expression.
The investigation traced how, in ten days, the trap had closed on Samuel Paty: from the lie of a schoolgirl to the online attacks, until the arrival of the attacker in front of the school on October 16.
At the trial, five of the teenagers, aged 14 and 15 at the time, were tried for conspiracy to commit aggravated violence. They are accused of having monitored the surroundings of the college and designated Samuel Paty as the attacker, for remuneration.
A sixth teenager, aged 13 at the time of the events, appears for slanderous denunciation. This schoolgirl wrongly claimed that the teacher had asked the Muslim students in the cl to report and leave the cl before showing the caricatures of Mohammed. She hadn’t actually attended this cl. His lie was at the origin of a violent campaign fueled on social networks against the teacher.
College students “collapsed in tears” during auditions
For the family of Samuel Paty, this first “fundamental” trial is eagerly awaited. “The role of minors is essential in the spiral which led to the ination” of the professor, declared Me Virginie Le Roy, who represents his parents and one of his sisters. Samuel Paty’s ex-partner will “send a letter to the president” but will not attend the hearing, said Me Francis Szpiner, who defends her and their son.
During auditions where they collapsed in tears, the college students swore that they had imagined that the professor would at most be “posted on the networks”, perhaps “humiliated”, “hit”… but “never” more than that would go “until death”. They are now high school students and face two and a half years of imprisonment. “It’s complicated,” summarizes Me Dylan Slama, lawyer for one of them. “All his life, he will remain this kid involved in this affair. »