The primary suspect in a trial over the 2015 Charlie Hebdo massacre has tested positive for coronavirus and the court has been suspended until Wednesday, lawyers said.
Ali Riza Polat is accused of having helped the killers of 12 people in the 2015 attack on satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo, a female police officer a day later and four hostages at a Jewish supermarket.
He is facing the most serious charge of the suspected accomplices on trial — complicity in terrorist crimes — and could face life in jail if convicted.
The 35-year-old vomited and was seen by a doctor, prompting the judge to suspend the court until next week.
The 10 accused accomplices must now be tested and “the resumption of the trial will depend on the results of these tests and the development of the health of the people concerned”, presiding judge Regis de Jorna said in an email to lawyers Saturday.
He urged everyone in court to observe social distancing, and insisted all participants must wear a mask.
The suspension of the hearing will delay the conclusion of the trial, which opened on September 2.
Defence lawyers were scheduled to plead on November 6, 9, 10 and 11 with the verdict expected on 13.
Fourteen people are on trial in the special terrorism court over their support for the jihadist trio who attacked in January 2015. All of the attackers were shot dead by police.
Described as the “right arm” of attacker Amedy Coulibaly, Polat was born in Istanbul but moved to France when he was three and like Coulibaly grew up in the city of Grande Borne in Grigny, in the suburbs of Paris.
France returned to lockdown on Friday after a sharp rise in coronavirus cases, in the latest measure to curb a disease that has infected more than 44.5 million people worldwide and killed nearly 1.2 million.
Fourteen people accused of helping jihadist gunmen storm the French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo and a Jewish supermarket went on trial Wednesday, five years after three days of terror sent shock waves through France.
The events that began on January 7, 2015 sparked a series of attacks on French soil, including “lone wolf” killings by people said to be inspired by the Islamic State group that have since claimed more than 250 lives.
Hearings began under heavy security as eleven of the suspects appeared in the courtroom, facing charges of conspiracy in a terrorist act or association with a terror group.
Three others, including the wife of one of the gunmen, fled to IS-held territory in Syria days before the attacks and are being tried in absentia.
Charlie Hebdo, whose taboo-shattering style makes it a beacon of free speech for many, marked the trial’s opening by republishing cartoons of the prophet Mohammed that had angered Muslims around the world.
“That’s the essence of the Charlie Hebdo spirit: It’s refusing to give up our freedoms, our laughter, and even our blasphemy,” the paper’s lawyer, Richard Malka, said before entering the courtroom.
“Don’t be afraid, neither of terrorism, nor of freedom.”
Some 150 experts and witnesses will be heard over the next two and a half months in the trial that will revisit one of the most painful chapters in France’s modern history.
The three assailants were killed by police, but any suggestion that those on trial were only minor players has been rubbished by prosecutors and relatives of the victims.
“These people aren’t lackeys,” said Patrick Klugman, a lawyer for one of the victims, insisting the suspects shared a deep-seated anti-Semitism.
– ‘Just so unfair’ –
Twelve people, including some of France’s most celebrated cartoonists, were gunned down on January 7, 2015, when brothers Said and Cherif Kouachi stormed the paper’s offices in eastern Paris.
A day later, Amedy Coulibaly, who became close to Cherif Kouachi while they were in prison, killed a 27-year-old police officer, Clarissa Jean-Philippe, during a traffic check in Montrouge, outside Paris.
“I just want to know why my daughter was killed. It’s just so unfair,” Clarissa’s mother Marie-Louisa Jean-Philippe, who will testify at the trial, told French daily Liberation on Wednesday.
Coulibaly went on to kill four men, all Jews, during a hostage-taking at the Hyper Cacher supermarket in Paris on January 9. He recorded a video saying the three attacks were coordinated and carried out in the name of the Islamic State jihadist group.
Coulibaly was killed when police stormed the supermarket. The Kouachi brothers were killed when officers carried out a nearly simultaneous operation at the printing shop where they were holed up northeast of Paris.
– Weapons and ideology –
The trial was originally set for last spring but was delayed by the coronavirus crisis that shut down most French courthouses.
Of the 14 suspects, three escaped arrest: Hayat Boumedienne, Coulibaly’s girlfriend, and two brothers, Mohamed and Mehdi Belhoucine, all of whom fled for IS-controlled areas in Syria just days before the attacks.
The Belhoucine brothers were reportedly killed while fighting alongside IS, while French officials suspect Boumedienne is on the run in Syria. Arrest warrants remain outstanding for all three.
Mohamed Belhoucine and Ali Riza Polat, a French citizen of Turkish origin, face the most serious charges of complicity in a terrorist act, which carry a maximum sentence of life in jail.
The former is thought to have become the ideological mentor of Coulibaly after meeting him in jail, opening up channels of communication for him to IS.
Polat, seen as close to Coulibaly, is suspected of playing a central role in preparing the attacks, notably by helping to build up the arsenal of weapons used.
Given its historical importance, the trial at the Paris courthouse will be filmed for France’s official archives, a first for a terror trial. It is scheduled to run until November 10.
A suspected international fraudster, Raymond Abbas, aka Ray Hushpuppi, has been arraigned in an American court in California and his trial is set to begin on October 13, 2020.
During his arraignment on Tuesday, he pleaded not guilty to the four-count of conspiracy to fraud, money laundering conspiracies, international money laundering, and engaging in monetary transactions in property derived from specified unlawful activity.
In June, the 37-year-old who is known for displaying his opulent lifestyle on social media was arrested in Dubai by special operatives of the Emeriti Police and American Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
‘Hushpuppi’ alongside Olalekan Ponle, popularly known as Woodberry, was extradited to Chicago in the United States where he was first arraigned in July.
The U.S. Court in Illinois did not have jurisdiction over the case, he was later transferred to Los Angeles, a city in California.
Hushpuppi Denied Bail
On July 14, Hushpuppi was denied bail by a court in the US Northern District of Illinois.
The court ruled that the self-acclaimed billionaire Gucci master, who has over 2.5m followers on Instagram, will remain in detention until his trial this year over money laundering allegations.
He will be transported to Los Angeles by the United States Marshall Service and will not be allowed to stay with his girlfriend’s uncle in Homewood, Illinois.
The trial is slated to be held in Los Angeles where the case was filed rather from Chicago where the investigation is being handled.
At the hearing, Hushpuppi’s lawyer denied that his client was a flight risk or a danger to the community as he repeatedly rejected the allegations made against him by the US’ Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI).
He is accused of being part of a network that made hundreds of millions of dollars from business email-compromise fraud and other scams.
A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos has adjourned the trial of former Governor of Ekiti State, Ayodele Fayose to October 20.
Fayose was present in court on Monday but the case failed to go on.
The court adjourned the case at the instance of the Counsel to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Rotimi Jacobs who told Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke that the prosecution witness who was supposed to testify was not available.
The lawyer said that that the witness had informed him that “one of his family members was being quarantined in the Isolation centre.”
The Counsel subsequently asked the court for an adjournment.
Counsel to the former governor, Olalekan Ojo, did not oppose the request for an adjournment.
Justice Aneke then adjourned the case to October 20 for the continuation of the trial.
At the last sitting of the court on March 5, 2020, the EFCC had called its fifth witness in the N2.2bn fraud trial of the former governor.
The witness, a banker, Johnson Abidakun, who worked as Head of Operations at the Ado Ekiti Branch of Zenith Bank told Justice Aneke how the bank moved the sum of N200m from Fayose’s home sometime in April 2016.
A British judge on Monday delayed WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange’s full extradition hearing, which had been due to begin next month, after the coronavirus pandemic prevented him meeting his lawyers.
At a preliminary hearing at Westminster Magistrates’ Court in London, Vanessa Baraitser agreed to vacate the May 18 start date for the three-week extradition trial, and warned the next time slot was not available until November.
A new timetable for the case will be agreed at another administrative hearing on May 4.
Assange is currently in the high security Belmarsh prison in south London as he fights an extradition request by the United States to stand trial there on espionage charges.
His lawyers said Monday they had been unable to take instruction from the whistleblower since the coronavirus outbreak prompted a nationwide lockdown in Britain more than a month ago.
“There have always been great difficulties in getting access to Mr Assange,” lawyer Edward Fitzgerald told the court.
He said that while detailed counting was ongoing, Abiodun Agbele, (named in the body of the charge) came in with one Taofeek, and gave instructions that the money is to be credited to a company called Still Earth Ltd, with Taofeek as depositor, following instructions by Fayose.
The witness said that after counting the money, it was then deposited in the account of Still Earth, adding that since Taofeek could not write he was assisted to fill same in the bank.
Under cross-examination by the defence counsel, Mr Ola Olanipekun (SAN) the witness told the court that he had never been to the residence of the first defendant before the period the money was conveyed.
When asked if it was the instructions received from Oshode he had passed on, he answered that he only confided in another staff of the bank called Aladegbola Adewale.
According to him, he confided in the said Aladegbola because he (Aladegbola) knew the destination where the money was to be picked up but never knew the amount.
When asked where the said Aladegbola is presently, he told the court that he had resigned from the bank.
White House lawyers began presenting their defence of President Donald Trump on Saturday at his historic Senate impeachment trial for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.
White House counsel Pat Cipollone began presenting opening arguments at an extraordinary weekend session of the 100-member Senate, which will decide whether the 45th US president should be removed from office.
“You will find the president did absolutely nothing wrong,” Cipollone said.
Democratic prosecutors from the House of Representatives, which impeached Trump on December 18, wrapped up their case for the president’s removal late Friday.
Trump’s lawyers will have 24 hours spread over three days to present their defence of the president to the Senate, where Republicans hold a 53 to 47 seat majority. They plan to speak for up to three hours on Saturday and resume their presentation on Monday.
“The Sopranos” actress Annabella Sciorra, who says Harvey Weinstein raped her in the 1990s, was called to give evidence in his trial Thursday as prosecutors try to prove the fallen movie mogul was a sexual predator.
Weinstein, 67, has pleaded not guilty to sexually assaulting former production assistant Mimi Haleyi and raping actress Jessica Mann, in the high-profile proceedings seen as key to the #MeToo movement.
Sciorra, best known for her role as Gloria Trillo in American mob drama “The Sopranos,” alleges that Weinstein raped her in her New York apartment on an unknown date sometime in the winter of 1993-94.
Her allegation is too old to be included on the charge sheet but the prosecution has called her as a witness to support a charge of predatory sexual assault.
That charge, which requires prosecutors to prove he sexually assaulted at least two people, carries possible life imprisonment.
In opening arguments, Wednesday, Assistant District Attorney Meghan Hast, told the court that Weinstein “violently” raped Sciorra after forcing his way into her home in Manhattan.
He then forcibly performed oral sex on the actress, the prosecution said.
The attack left her “emotionally and physically destroyed” and led her to drink and even cutting herself, Hast added.
Sciorra was too scared to tell the police, the prosecutor said and did not reveal the alleged assault publicly until October 2017 when her account was published in The New Yorker magazine.
Hast also told the court that Weinstein turned up at Sciorra’s hotel room in Cannes in 1997 wearing just his underwear while carrying a bottle of baby oil in one hand and a video cassette in the other.
Weinstein’s defence attorneys are expected to ferociously challenge Sciorra’s account.
During opening arguments, lawyer Damon Cheronis said there was no evidence of the alleged attack.
“Because there is no date given we can’t interview people to find out where Harvey Weinstein was that day. We can’t interview neighbours,” he told the court.
Cheronis said Sciorra once told a friend she “did a crazy thing” with Weinstein.
“She didn’t describe it as rape because it wasn’t,” he said.