Six teenagers were convicted by a French juvenile court on Friday (December 8) for their roles in the beheading of a teacher by an Islamic extremist that rocked the country. Teacher Samuel Paty was killed outside his school in 2020 after showing the cartoons of the prophet of Islam in his class during a debate on free expression. The attacker who had radicalised was killed by the police. The court observed that five of the defendants, who were 14 and 15 during the time of the attack, were guilty of staking out the teacher and identifying him for the attacker.
All about the case
Another defendant, who was 13 at the said time, was found guilty of lying about the classroom debate in a comment that added fuel to the fire on the internet against the fire.
The teenagers – all students at Paty's school – testified and claimed that they were not aware the teacher would be killed.
All were handed brief or suspended prison terms, and required to stay in school or jobs during the duration of their suspended terms with regular medical checkups.
Paty's name was disclosed on social media after a class debate on free expression during which he showed prophet caricatures published by the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo. The publication had also triggered a deadly extremist massacre in the Charlie Hebdo newsroom in 2015.
Paty who was a history and geography teacher was killed on October 16, 2020, near his school in a Paris suburb by an attacker, who was identified as Abdoullakh Anzorov.
The five people who helped Anzorov identify Paty were convicted of involvement in a group preparing aggravated violence.
The sixth defendant wrongly claimed that Paty had asked Muslim students to raise their hands and leave the classroom before he showed the class the prophet cartoons. She was absent in the class on the day of the lecture and told the investigators later that she had lied. She was convicted of making false allegations.
Separate trials for adults
Her father shared the lie in an online video that called for mobilisation against the teacher. He, along with a radical Islamic activist who helped disseminate dangerous messages against the teacher are among eight adults who will face separate trials for adults suspected of involvement in the killing, expected late next year.
The trial was held behind closed doors, and the media are not allowed to disclose the defendants' identities according to French law regarding minors.
(With AP inputs)