A trial of 14 suspects in connection with three days of terrorist attacks in Paris in January 2015, including on the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo, has heard how a gunman picked off four men at a kosher supermarket in the city.
Amédy Coulibaly killed four people and took dozens more hostage, including a baby, after marching into Hyper Cacher with an arsenal of weapons including enough dynamite to bring down the entire building.
Coulibaly, 32, was in contact with Saïd and Chérif Kouachi, who had mounted an attack at Charlie Hebdo two days earlier in which 12 people were shot, and pledged allegiance to Islamic State.
On Monday, the Paris court trying the 14 people accused of helping the Kouachi brothers and Coulibaly – three of whom are being tried in absentia – heard chilling evidence of how the heavily armed gunman had shot Yohan Cohen, 20, twice as he entered the store. For 30 minutes, Cohen lay moaning from his injuries on the floor near the entrance of the supermarket before Coulibaly asked the hostages to decide if he should finish him off. He then shot Cohen again, killing him.
By then the gunman had killed three others. Coulibaly hauled Philippe Braham, 45, a sales executive for a computer company who was shopping in the supermarket, to his feet and asked his name, then shot him dead. He killed François-Michel Saada, 64, known as Michel Saada, as he tried to leave the supermarket at the beginning of the siege, dragging the dead man’s body inside as he ordered staff to lower the security grill.
Coulibaly then sent a cashier to the lower ground floor to order those hiding there, many of them in a cold room, to return. She returned with Yoav Hattab, 21, a student from Tunis, who at first tried to reason with the gunman then grabbed a Kalashnikov that had been left nearby and tried to shoot him. When he failed, Coulibaly said “So you want to play”, and shot him dead, the court was told.
During the siege, Coulibaly spoke to a number of French television journalists admitting that he had deliberately targeted the kosher supermarket. He died after French special forces stormed the building at the same time as police entered a printworks north of Paris where the Kouachi brothers were hiding. All three were killed.
The trial is scheduled to continue until November. The 11 men in the dock are accused of helping the Kouachi brothers and Coulibaly carry out their attacks. Two of the three absent suspects are believed to have died in Syria; the third, Coulibaly’s partner, Hayat Boumeddiene, 32, was last believed to be in Syria but has disappeared and is also thought to have died.
On Monday afternoon, the Paris mayor, Anne Hidalgo, gave evidence despite the objection of several defence lawyers, describing the events of January 2015 as a “nightmare” for the victims’ families and the city.