A prime suspect in the trial of the 2015 massacres at the satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo and elsewhere in Paris today denied responsibility for attacks by jihadists, one of whom was a close associate.
Ali Riza Polat, a 35-year-old Franco-Turkish man, was imprisoned a few weeks after the terrorist attack that baffled France. Investigators said he tried to flee the country to Syria several times.
In his defense, Polat has selected Isabelle Coutant-Peyre, the lawyer who defended the convicted international terrorist Ilich Ramirez Sanchez, better known as "Carlos the Jackal".
She later became his companion and married him in a religious ceremony in prison, although the union has no legal validity.
This court sketch, made today in the Paris courthouse, shows the fourteen defendants and their lawyers opening the trial of the accomplices in the 2015 murders of jihadists by Charlie Hebdo
For his defense, Polat has chosen Isabelle Coutant-Peyre (picture), the lawyer who defended the convicted international terrorist Ilich Ramirez Sanchez
& # 39; I'm innocent! & # 39; Polat told the court, his head was shaved and his face was hidden behind a cloth mask.
"I'm here because certain people, squeaks of lies, said all sorts of nonsense … but they lie," he said.
Istanbul-born Polat moved to France when he was three and said he got involved in petty crime when he was 13 or 14 in order to later deal with drugs.
He grew up in the same harsh Parisian suburb of Grigny as Amedy Coulibaly, who killed a police officer on January 8, 2015 and four people the next day in the Jewish supermarket Hyper Cacher before he was killed by police.
These attacks came immediately after two brothers, Said and Cherif Kouachi, stormed Charlie Hebdo's offices and killed 12 people.
Isabelle Coutant-Peyre, attorney for one of the defendants Ali Riza Polat, leaves the courtroom during a break on the opening day of the trial on Wednesday. Her client, a 35-year-old Franco-Turkish man, was arrested a few weeks after the terrorist attack that stunned France
Polat is suspected of helping to provide weapons to all three armed men and faces the heaviest charge of the 14 defendants: complicity in a terrorist attack, which carries a possible life sentence.
But Polat, who says he converted to Islam in 2014, insisted he played no part in the attacks.
“I have nothing to do with them. You can't kill the innocent … I'm not violent, ”he said.
The trial of Polat and thirteen other suspects, who are alleged to have helped the three armed men, opened on Wednesday and is expected to last through November.
Charlie Hebdo marked the opportunity by reprinting the cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad that had angered Muslims around the world. The move was praised by free speech advocates but angered by many Muslim leaders.
Supporters of the persistent Islamist party Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan carry placards and slogans during a protest against the reprint caricature of the Prophet Mohammad by the French magazine Charlie Hebdo in Rawalpindi on Friday
On Friday, the newspaper announced that its Wednesday edition was sold out on the first day, prompting it to print another 200,000 copies that will appear on newsstands in the coming days.
Lawyer Coutant-Peyre previously represented Zacarias Moussaoui, a French national who pleaded guilty to conspiring to kill American citizens in the 9/11 attacks.
She represented Moussaoui early in his detention. He is currently serving six life sentences without parole at ADX Supermax Federal Prison in Florence, Colorado.
Her clients also include the French serial killer Charles Sobhraj, who chased western tourists in Southeast Asia in the 1970s, and Roger Garaudy, a French philosopher and resistance fighter who was convicted and fined in 1998 for Holocaust denial.
Carlos the jackal
Venezuelan extremist Carlos the Jackal was responsible for a number of atrocities across France in the 1970s and 80s
Arguably the most notorious international terrorist of his generation, Venezuelan extremist Carlos the Jackal, was responsible for a series of atrocities across France in the 1970s and 80s, in which victims, including police officers, were killed.
Carlos, whose real name is Ilich Ramirez Sanchez, was the most wanted refugee in the world at this time and has been in prison in France since his arrest in the Sudanese capital Khartoum in 1994 by the French elite police.
Carlos was convicted of the murder of two French police officers and an informant in Paris in 1997 and of masterminding attacks on two trains, a train station and a Paris street in 2011, killing 11 people and injuring another 150.
He sealed his prominence in 1975 with the hostage-taking of OPEC oil ministers in Vienna in the name of the Palestinian struggle and became an international weapon for loan from Soviet block guards.
In the 1970s and 1980s, the Marxist militant and self-proclaimed "elite marksman" became the symbol of Cold War anti-imperialism and the number one public enemy for Western governments.
Carlos was finally arrested in 1994 by the French secret services in Sudan, 20 years after his first mission on French soil.
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