One survivor of the Charlie Hebdo murders has described the trauma to a French court as he was forced to visit two magazine attackers at gunpoint.
Cartoonist Corinne Ray gave emotional testimony in the trial of 14 people accused of helping the two attackers.
Militant Islamists shot and killed 12 people in and around Charlie Hebdo’s Paris office in January 2015.
Five more were killed by third gunmen in related attacks.
17 victims were killed over a period of three days. The three attackers were killed by the police. The killings marked the beginning of a wave of jihadist attacks across France that killed more than 250 people.
France marks five years after Paris massacre
- Charlie Hebdo Attack: Three Days of Terror
- How does Europe deal with free terrorist criminals
- Paris attack: ‘I’m not Charlie’
In the days following the 2015 attacks, millions of people participated in solidarity marches in France and around the world under the slogan “Jae Suis Charlie” (I’m Charlie).
The magazine marked the beginning of the trial by repeating the controversial cartoon of Prophet Muhammad that sparked protests in several Muslim countries.
What was the testimony of the cartoonist?
Ms Ray, 38, had tears in her eyes on Tuesday as she recalled the moment faced by the attackers, Cherif and Saeed Caochi, on 7 January 2015 at Charlie Hebdo’s offices.
The cartoonist had quickly left the magazine’s weekly editorial meeting to go down for smoke when he encountered the gunmen at the door.
Branding the assault rifles, gunmen called him by his pen name “Coco”, and said “we want Charlie Hebdo”, Ms. Ray told the court.
Threatening to kill him, the gunmen force him to take him to the second-floor offices of the magazine, telling him: “You have insulted the prophet, we are Al-Qaeda Yemen.”
The attackers targeted Charlie Hebdo because they believed that the magazine had blasphemed against Islam by publishing the caricature of Prophet Muhammad.
At the top of the stairs, the attackers ordered Ms. Ray to tap into the entry code for the office as they pointed their weapons at her.
“I had a sense of fear,” Ms. Ray said in court, which was visually emotional. “I was in trouble, I can’t think anymore.”
“I was devastated, as if scattering myself, I can do nothing now. I moved towards the code keypad and I typed it,” he said. “I felt the terrorists were getting close to their target, I felt that they were rising next to me.”
What happened during the attack?
Inside the office, Said and Cheriff Koachi opened fire on the magazine’s staff.
Weekly website administrator Simon Fishee was first shot. Meanwhile, Ms. Ray said she ran to hide under a desk.
“After the shots, there was silence, a silence of death … I felt that they were going to finish work with everyone they had not killed,” Ms Ray said.
Less than two minutes later, the shooting spree ended. The attackers left behind a vision of “horror”, Ms. Ray said.
“It’s something that I’ll be with for the rest of my life. I felt so powerless, so guilty,” Ms Ray said.
What happened after the attack?
The gunmen were eventually killed by the security forces after a long battle. His victims were eight journalists, two police officers, a caretaker and a visitor.
In a related attack a few days later, jihadist gunman Amédée Culibli killed three customers and an employee while being held hostage at the Hyper Kachar Jewish supermarket in Porte de Vincnes, east of Paris.
He had earlier shot and killed a policeman in the city.
Security forces stormed the supermarket before eventually killing him and freeing the remaining hostages.
Who are the accused in the trial?
They include 35 years old Ali Raza Pollat, Which are seen as the main link between the two attacks and are believed to have played an important role in acquiring used weapons. He later attempted to flee to Dubai, Lebanon and Syria but was not successful.
Mikael Pastor of Alvatic DNA was found in two guns discovered at Coulibaly’s home and a glove at the scene. Mohammed Fers Investigators said he was a middleman involved in the sale of the rifle used in the supermarket attack, while Amir Ramdani, Sameer Makhlouf, Willie Prevost And Christophe Roumell He is accused of providing support.
Two people in Belgium – owners of garages Metin Corsoler And its partner Michelle Catino, An unemployed Italian in the 60s – and the owner of two more garages in northeastern France Miguel Martinez And its partner Abdelaziz Abbad – All three gunmen are charged with supplying “assault rifles, automatic pistols, rocket launchers, chargers and ammunition, bulletproof vests”.
On trial in absentia Hayat Baumdenen, The companion of Coulibal. A week before the attack she fled to France for Syria. Previously believed to have been killed in a US airstrike last year, French media reports state that she may still be alive.
A female French jihadist questioned by security services as she tried to re-enter France said they saw Hyatt Boumeden at the Al-Hole camp for IS detainees in October last year and Hyatt Boumeden then camp. Had run away from
Mohammed and Mehdi Belhosin Syria is accused of helping Hyatt Baumarden. Both are believed to have been killed in Syria or Iraq. Mohammed Belhosin also provided email addresses used by other defendants.