the three suspects present were sentenced to 8 to 13 years in prison

After almost four weeks of interrogation in the trial of the attack in Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray, the three defendants who were present in the coffin this Wednesday were declared guilty of conspiracy terrorist criminal and have been sentenced to prison terms ranging from 8 to 13 years.

They were sentenced to 7 to 14 years in prison on Monday.

In the absence of the perpetrators of the murder of Father Hamel on July 26, 2016 in the church of Seine-Maritime, two 19-year-old jihadists – Adel Kermiche and Abdel Malik Petitjean – were murdered by the police on the day of the attack, the court has said. of special assizes of Paris since February 14, three members of their families or ideological entourage have been judged: Jean-Philippe Steven Jean-Louis Farid Khelil and Yassine Sebaihia

  • Jean-Philippe Steven Jean-Louis was sentenced to 13 years in prison. He admitted to trying to go to Syria with one of the terrorists, spreading Daesh propaganda and launching jackpots to fund radical Islamism, but denied knowing the terrorists’ intentions. His sentence is accompanied by a two-thirds safety term. Justice also ordered a five-year socio-legal follow-up, with an obligation to engage in a professional activity, a ban on dating a co-perpetrator or an accomplice, a ban on carrying a weapon and a duty of care .
  • Farid Khelil was sentenced to 10 years in prison. Cousin of Abdel-Malik Petitjean, one of the two attackers, had spoken to him about attacks via messages and admitted that he had prepared a departure for Syria but insisted on ignoring his cousin’s intentions. His sentence is accompanied by a two-thirds safety term. Justice also ordered a five-year socio-legal follow-up, with an obligation to engage in a professional activity, a ban on dating a co-perpetrator or an accomplice, a ban on carrying a weapon and a duty of care .
  • Yassine Sebaihia was sentenced to 8 years in prison. He traveled from Toulouse to Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray a few days before the attack to see the terrorists, but explained that he only wanted religious lessons. Justice also ordered a five-year socio-legal follow-up, with an obligation to engage in a professional activity, a ban on dating a co-perpetrator or an accomplice, a ban on carrying a weapon and a duty of care .
  • The court also sentenced Rachid Kassim to life imprisonment. This fourth defendant, who is seen as the instigator of the attack and the only one to be tried for “complicity”, was tried in his absence because he is presumed dead in Iraq in 2017.

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Nearly four weeks of intense trials

Among the highlights of this trial were the testimonies of the civil parties, in particular those of Guy Coponetthe parishioner who survived the attack, and that of Roseline Hamelthe sister of the slain priest.

Now 92 years old, Guy Coponet was the first of the civil parties to testify on February 17. Wounded and forced to film Father Hamel’s murder in church, he said “to think” to the killers “Every morning” because the area around his throat where he was hit has gone numb since the attack.

Guy Coponet himself suffered stab wounds in the back, arm and throat. He played dead and waited: “It took a long time, I was finishing my prayer to Mary when someone arrived.” And the Catholic to start “I greet you Mary” in the courtroom.

Guy Coponet, survivor of the attack in Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray, on his arrival at the court of assizes in Paris on Thursday, February 17, 2022 © AFP
JULIAN DE ROSA

Father Hamel’s sister testified the same day, describing his brother as low-key and humble: “He devoted his life to others.” A picture of the priest is shown on the screens. And Roseline adds sobs in her voice as she turns to the accused: “Gentlemen, you will not have my hatred. Even with my great suffering”

Roseline, sister of Father Hamel, Thursday 17 February 2022
Roseline, sister of Father Hamel, Thursday 17 February 2022 © AFP
ULIAN DE ROSA

The forgiveness of the accused

Invited to speak one last time before the Special Assize Court of Paris begins deliberations on Wednesday, March 9, the three accused expressed their condolences to the civil parties and asked for forgiveness for what had happened.

A pardon that two of the defendants had already formulated for the first time during the testimony of the civil parties at the beginning of the trial. Farid Khelil, one of the defendants, asked to speak on 17 February. The killer’s cousin, Abdel-Malik Petitjean, said: “You have upset me, Mr Coponet. Every morning for five and a half years I think of you and Father Hamel. I beg your forgiveness for my cousin who entered the church.” Guy Coponet judged the approach of the accused “big”† The non-year-old expressed his hope for a better future.

After the testimony of Father Hamel’s sister, Farid Khelil spoke again: “I never thought my cousin could attack your brother. You said ‘you won’t have my hate’, know you have all my love”† And to continue: “I hope one day you’ll forgive my negligence. My criminal negligence.’

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During his interrogation on Friday 4 March Jean Philippe Steven Jean Louis also apologized to the bourgeois parties: I am ashamed to stand before them. They could have blamed us and they haven’t since the beginning of the process. I do not know the scope of my actions, but I want to ask your forgiveness.”

The accused Farid Khelil (left), Yassine Sebaihia (center) and Jean-Philippe Steven Jean Louis (right) at the trial for the murder of Father Hamel in Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray in March 2022
The accused Farid Khelil (left), Yassine Sebaihia (center) and Jean-Philippe Steven Jean Louis (right) at the trial for the murder of Father Hamel in Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray in March 2022 © AFP
Benoit PEYRUCQ

“Hide This Jihad I Can’t See”

Jean Philippe Steven Jean Louis admitted on March 4 that he wanted to go to Syria: “The situation in Syria touched me. I looked for ways to leave to do humanitarian work. One thing led to another, I went to the jihad sphere. I met a girl, Hanane, and I wanted to go with her.” At the time, Jean Philippe Steven Jean Louis watched execution videos released by ISIS: “I can watch, but psychologically I can’t believe it. All I can say is that I was bad then.”

The suspect has made pots online on the internet. Question from the chairman: “To help the Muslim community or to fund trips to Syria?” Respondent’s response: “No special reason.” Abdel Malik Petitjean asked for one “but it was not used”. He decided to go to Syria with Abdel Malik Petitjean in June 2016: “Then I took the money out of the pots to be able to leave.” They met in Zurich, Switzerland to fly to Turkey. But Steven Jean Louis was blocked at the finish. Both men were sent back to France.

“I am not an Islamic terrorist”defended himself Farid Khelil March 2nd. The accused assured that he never supported his cousin Abdel-Malik Petitjean’s deadly project: “I didn’t encourage him to kill people”† Farid Khelil estimated that he had been “dumbling” in his Telegram exchanges with his cousin for three weeks. But he said he didn’t want to hurt anyone: “I’m 1000% guilty until July 25, but from the moment I’m associated with the murder, you imagine I want to do harm and I can’t help saying that. I would have gone to the police if I had known what he [son cousin] was doing”.

Finally, the third defendant Yassine Sebaihia recognized on March 3 with “travels very recklessly”† He joined the two murderers in Saint-Etienne and left the day before the attack of 26 July 2016. When asked by the Advocate General: “The religion you are going to look for is jihadism. How can you start looking for religion lessons when you see the horrible words of Adel Kermiche (on his Telegram channel, editor’s note) His answer: “I don’t know, I rushed”.

In the pleadings of the bourgeois parties on Monday 7 March, it was particularly regretted that “it was a bit of ‘hide this jihad’ that I couldn’t see”. For Me Morain of FENVAC, an association of victims of attacks, it was a “disguise of things” according to him operated on by the defendants.

The accused Yassine Sebaihia (left), Farid Khelil (center) and Jean-Philippe Steven Jean Louis (right) at the trial for the murder of Father Hamel in Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray in February 2022
The accused Yassine Sebaihia (left), Farid Khelil (center) and Jean-Philippe Steven Jean Louis (right) at the trial for the murder of Father Hamel in Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray in February 2022 © AFP
Benoit PEYRUCQ
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