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Charlie Hebdo trial: Prosecutors request 30-year sentence for fugitive widow of attacker

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By David Walsh  & AFP
A woman wearing a face mask takes a pictures of a painting by French street artist Christian Guemy, a.k.a. 'C215' in Paris on Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2020.
A woman wearing a face mask takes a pictures of a painting by French street artist Christian Guemy, a.k.a. 'C215' in Paris on Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2020.   -   Copyright  Michel Euler/Associated Press
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Prosecutors in the Charlie Hebdo trial requested on Tuesday that judges sentence the accomplice and widow of terrorist Amedy Coulibaly to 30 years imprisonment for her alleged role in the January 2015 terror attacks in Paris.

The National Anti-Terrorist Prosecutor's Office argued that Hayat Boumeddiene, who is being tried in absentia, had played "an important role" in the preparation of the attacks carried out at the office of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, the Hyper Cacher supermarket, and the murder of a policewoman in Montrouge.

The attacks, which took place from January 7-9, 2015, left 17 victims dead - including some of the magazine's most prominent journalists - as well as the three attackers.

Prosecutors asked that she serve at least two-thirds of her sentence.

"She has never denied the merits of her husband's action" and "has become an instrument of propaganda" for the Islamic State terror group, prosecutors argued.

The indictments come after 14 defendants, including fugitive Boumeddiene, went on trial at the Paris Special Assize Court on September 2 accused of helping the perpetrators of the attacks.

Boumeddiene - the only woman being tried for the attacks - is wanted by French police after fleeing to Islamic State-held Syria in the days before the attacks. She was captured on CCTV surveillance footage at Madrid airport on January 2, 2015, before she boarded a flight to Istanbul.

The subject of an international arrest warrant, her case is still active after a Jihadi returned to France said she met her in a Syrian camp for IS fighters in October 2019.

During the trial, Boumeddiene's sisters testified that she calls them at least once a year to catch up.

The other defendants stand accused of helping plan the logistics of the attacks, including procuring weapons and tactical gear for attackers Coulibaly and brothers Saïd and Chérif Kouachi.

The prosecution demanded a life sentence for Ali Riza Polat for his "pivotal" role in the planning of the attacks. The Franco-Turk citizen, who is believed to have been a close friend of Coulibaly, is suspected of helping build the weapons the attackers used.

The rest of the defendants are facing sentences from between five years to life in prison if found guilty.

The two-month-long trial, which was suspended for three weeks after several defendants tested positive for coronavirus, has gripped France.

During the court's sitting, the country also witnessed three more terror attacks on French soil.

On September 25, a knife attack in Paris near the former premises of the magazine left two people injured. On October 16, teacher Samuel Paty was beheaded in the capital close to the suburban school he taught at by an Islamic extremist over a lesson on free speech.

He "died simply because he passed on to his pupils what freedom of thought and freedom of expression represented," said the president of the court, Régis de Jorna, during the trial.

Three more people were stabbed to death on October 29 in what President Emmanuel Macron described as an "Islamist terrorist attack" at the Notre Dame basilica in Nice.