Six teenagers are found guilty over roles in beheading of teacher

Six teenagers are found guilty over roles in 2020 beheading of French teacher Samuel Paty by Islamic extremist that shocked country

Six teenagers have been found guilty for their roles in the beheading of French teacher Samuel Paty, who was killed outside his school in 2020 by an Islamic extremist. 

The attacker, a young Chechen who had been radicalised, was killed by police but now other youngsters have been convicted over their connection with the horrific ordeal.

Today a French juvenile court  found 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, was found guilty of lying about the classroom debate in a comment that aggravated online anger against the teacher.

The teenagers – all students at Mr Paty’s school – testified that they did not know the teacher would be killed.

History and geography teacher Samuel Paty, 47, was decapitated outside a school near Paris

Pedestrians pass by a poster depicting French teacher Samuel Paty on November 3, 2020, following the decapitation of the teacher on October 16

This file photo taken on October 18, 2020, shows a person holding a placard reading “I am Samuel” as people gather on the Place de la Republique in Paris on October 18, 2020, in homage to history teacher

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 check-ups.

The youngsters left the courtroom without speaking. Some held their heads down as they listened to their verdicts while one appeared to wipe away tears. 

Mr 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.

Mr 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 Mr Paty to the attacker were convicted of involvement in a group preparing aggravated violence.

The sixth defendant wrongly claimed that Mr 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 was convicted of making false allegations.

Paty is seen in this undated image

FILE: Hundreds of people gather on Republique square during a demonstration Sunday Oct. 18, 2020 in Paris in support of freedom of speech and to pay tribute to a French history teacher who was beheaded near Paris

Flowers and signs reading “I am Samuel Paty’ are displayed at a makeshift memorial during a march (marche blanche) in Conflans-Sainte-Honorine, northwest of Paris, in tribute to French teacher Samuel Paty

Her father shared the lie in an online video that called for mobilisation against the teacher. He and a radical Islamic activist who helped disseminate virulent messages against Mr Paty are among eight adults who will face a separate trial 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.

The proceedings come weeks after a teacher was fatally stabbed and three other people injured in northern France in October in a school attack by a former student suspected of Islamic radicalisation.

That killing occurred in a context of global tensions over the Israel-Hamas war and led French authorities to deploy 7,000 additional soldiers across the country to bolster security and vigilance.

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