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Trial date finalised for Charlie Hebdo attacks

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Paris (AFP)

Fourteen people will go on trial in Paris next May over the January 2015 attacks on the Charlie Hebdo newspaper and other targets that heralded a wave of jihadist strikes on France, judicial sources said Wednesday.

The trial will take place from May 4 to July 10, lawyers and a judicial source told AFP.

Seventeen people were killed over three days in and around Paris in January 2015 in the attacks.

Cherif Kouachi and his brother Said killed 12 people on January 7 at the Charlie Hebdo offices in Paris, including some of France's best known cartoonists.

Over the following two days, a third gunman, Amedy Coulibaly, shot dead a young policewoman and killed four people at a Jewish supermarket.

All three gunmen, who had claimed allegiance to jihadist groups, were killed by police.

The 14 accused are suspected of having provided logistical aid to the attackers.

The case will be heard by a special court seated, for logistical reasons, in a new, bigger building in the extreme northwest of Paris and not the Palace of Justice in the centre that would ordinarily have hosted it, the sources said.

Eleven of the suspects are in detention, but three are set to be tried in their absence.

They include Hayat Boumedienne, the partner of Coulibaly, who Turkish authorities said at the time had crossed into Syria as her partner shot the policewoman.

Also on the run are brothers Mohamed and Mehdi Belhoucine who also left for the Iraq-Syria region just before the attacks.

Unconfirmed reports have said all three could now be dead after fierce bombing campaigns in the area to defeat the jihadists there.

Responsibility for the attack against Charlie Hebdo was claimed by Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, an offshoot of the main Al-Qaeda organisation.

When it begins in April 2020, the trial of the 14 will be the first such major process against jihadists in France since the 2017 trial over the 2012 attacks by Mohamed Merah.

Merah killed three soldiers in March 2012 before gunning down a rabbi, two of the rabbi's children, aged three and five, and an eight-year-old girl at a Jewish school in Toulouse. A police sniper killed him during a siege at his home.

His brother Abdelkader was in April handed a 30-year jail term as an accomplice in the murders.

A wave of jihadist attacks on France that started with the Charlie Hebdo killings have claimed 255 lives so far, including 90 at the Bataclan concert hall as part of coordinated strikes on multiple Paris targets on November 13, 2015.

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