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Suspect in Charlie Hebdo attack gets life sentence on appeal

A man accused of helping find weapons for the jihadist gunmen who attacked the Charlie Hebdo magazine and a Jewish supermarket in France eight years ago was given a life sentence after his appeal trial, a judicial source said Thursday.

Ali Riza Polat, 37, who contests the charges of complicity in a terrorist attack, was originally handed a 30-year sentence in December 2020.

A second suspect who appealed his 20-year sentence for conspiring with the attackers, Amar Ramdani, 41, was again found guilty but saw his sentence reduced to 13 years.

Twelve people were massacred at Charlie Hebdo’s Paris offices on January 7, 2015, by the brothers Said and Cherif Kouachi, who said they were acting on behalf of Al-Qaeda to avenge the paper’s decision to publish cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed.

A day later, Amedy Coulibaly killed a 27-year-old police officer during a traffic check outside Paris, before killing four Jewish men during a hostage-taking at the Hyper Cacher supermarket on January 9, claiming to act in the name of the Islamic State group.

All three were killed by police, and in December 2020 a French court convicted 14 people of helping to carry out the attacks. Polat and Ramdani were the only ones to appeal their convictions.

Polat’s new sentence carries a minimum jail time of 20 years before he can be eligible for parole.

The Charlie Hebdo and Hyper Cacher killings marked the start of a deadly wave of Islamist attacks around Europe, in particular the harrowing killing spree a few months later at the Bataclan concert hall and at Paris bars and cafes in November 2015.

Those shot dead in the Charlie Hebdo office included some of France’s most celebrated cartoonists including Jean Cabut, known as Cabu, 76, Georges Wolinski, 80, and Stephane “Charb” Charbonnier, 47.

The massacre triggered a global outpouring of solidarity with France under the “I am Charlie” slogan.