Six French teens convicted for roles in Islamic extremist’s beheading of teacher

PARIS — A French juvenile court convicts six teenagers for their roles in the beheading of a teacher by an Islamic extremist that shocked the country.

Teacher Samuel Paty was killed outside his school in 2020 after showing his class cartoons of the prophet of Islam during a debate on free expression. The attacker, a young Chechen who had radicalized, was killed by police.

The court finds five of the defendants, who were 14 and 15 at the time of the attack, guilty of staking out the teacher and identifying him for the attacker. Another defendant, 13 at the time, is found guilty of lying about the classroom debate in a comment that aggravated online anger against the teacher.

The teenagers — all students at Paty’s school — testified that they didn’t know the teacher would be killed. All are 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.

They left the courtroom without speaking. Some had their heads down as they listened to the verdicts. One appeared to wipe tears.

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 triggered a deadly extremist massacre in the Charlie Hebdo newsroom in 2015.

Paty, a history and geography teacher, was killed on October 16, 2020, near his school in a Paris suburb by attacker Abdoullakh Anzorov.

The five who identified Paty to the attacker are 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 not in the classroom that day, and later told investigators she had lied. She is convicted of making false allegations.

Her father shared the lie in an online video that called for mobilization against the teacher. He and a radical Islamic activist who helped disseminate virulent messages against Paty are among eight adults who will face a separate trial for adults suspected of involvement in the killing, expected late next year.

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