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Six Teenagers on Trial After Teacher Beheaded for Showing Cartoons in Class

Trial Begins: 6 Teens Charged After Teacher in France Beheaded
Source: France Diplomacy Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs; Unsplash

Six teens went to trial in France Monday, November 27, for their alleged roles in the death of Samuel Paty, 47, a history and geography teacher who was beheaded in October of 2020.

Nov. 29 2023, Published 9:35 a.m. ET

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The trial has begun for six teens charged in connection with the beheading of a middle school teacher in France.

The defendants were students at the school where 47-year-old Samuel Paty taught, Knewz.com reported.

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Samuel Paty, a 47-year-old history and geography teacher, was stabbed and beheaded in October of 2020 near the middle school where he taught in Moulins, a small French city about 185 miles south of Paris.

French authorities said the attack was motivated by a "desire for retaliation" after Paty showed cartoons of the prophet Mohammed during a class on freedom of expression. The brutal murder sent shockwaves through the country and abroad.

Paty's killer, 18-year-old Abdullakh Anzorov from the Russian republic of Chechnya, was shot and killed by police shortly after the murder.

Six students at the school were then charged in connection to the attack. Five of them are accused of giving Anzorov information that helped him find Paty. They were between 14 and 15 at the time of the attack, and will be charged with premeditated criminal conspiracy, or ambush, according to Reuters.

The sixth, the youngest defendant, was 13 years old when she allegedly lied to her father, saying Paty told Muslim students to leave the class during the lesson, according to The Guardian. However, she later admitted she was not even in the classroom that day.

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Eight adults are also charged in a separate criminal trial slated to begin next year. The defendants include the girl's father, who allegedly launched a social media campaign against Paty.

The teens, now high school students, arrived in court on Nov. 27, for trial wearing hoodies to hide their faces, Reuters reported. Their identities are not being released and the media is not allowed to document court proceedings due to the defendants' ages.

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They each face a maximum of two and a half years in prison.

In a speech following the murder, French President Emmanuel Macron called those responsible "terrorists" and "barbarians," saying the teacher "wasn't the Islamists' main target, he was simply teaching."

He said Paty was dedicated to learning the history of his students' religions and defended his decision to show the cartoons in class. Paty had also reportedly told students they were welcome to step outside if they were uncomfortable with the images being shown.

The trial is expected to last until Dec. 8, according to The Guardian.

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