French anti-terror prosecutors have charged two teenagers with complicity in terrorist murder over the assassination of Samuel Paty, after they accepted money from the killer to help identify him. Five others were also charged, as the nation paid homage to the slain teacher.
“We will not give up cartoons,” President Emmanuel Macron told a solemn ceremony at Paris's Sorbonne university as he paid tribute to Paty, who was targeted for showing caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed in a class on free speech early this month.
In the presence of his family, the president awarded Paty France's highest decoration, the Legion of Honour, saying he had been slain by “cowards” for representing the secular, democratic values of the French Republic.
“He was killed because Islamists want our future,” Macron said. “They will never have it.”
Complicity in terrorist murder
Earlier Wednesday anti-terror prosecutor Jean-Francois Ricard said the two teenagers – aged 14 and 15 – had been in a group of pupils who shared 300-350 euros offered by the killer to help find Paty.
The two stayed with the killer, Chechen-born 18-year-old Abdullakh Anzorov, for more than two hours waiting for Paty even after he told them he wanted to “humiliate and strike” him over the Mohamed caricatures, seen as offensive by many Muslims, Ricard said.
Anzorov then killed Paty as he made his way home on foot from the junior high school where he taught in the suburb of Conflans-Sainte-Honorine outside Paris.
The pair are among seven people authorities have charged over the killing.
The parent of one of Paty's pupils, who started the social media campaign against the teacher even though his daughter was not in class when the cartoons were shown, was also charged with the same offence as the two teenagers, the national anti-terrorist prosecutor's office said late on Wednesday.
Also charged was a known Islamist radical who helped the father in his campaign.The father of the pupil had exchanged messages with Anzorov via WhatsApp in the days leading up to the murder.
Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin has accused the father and the Islamist radical of having issued a “fatwa” against Paty.
The other three facing prosecution are friends of Anzorov, one of whom allegedly drove him to the scene of the crime while another accompanied him to purchase a weapon.
Two of them also face a complicity in terrorist murder charge while the third was charged with a lesser offence, the anti-terrorist prosecutor's office said.
Police have carried out dozens of raids since the crime, while the government has ordered the six-month closure of a mosque outside Paris and dissolved the Sheikh Yassin Collective, a group they said supported Hamas.
- French police shut down Paris-region mosque over teacher's murder
- Social networks at heart of investigation into teacher's assassination
The Palestinian militant group said on Wednesday it had “no links” with the French organisation founded by Abdelhakim Sefrioui – the Islamist radical in custody over Paty's murder.
The French government has earmarked for dissolution more than 50 other organisations it accuses of having links to radical Islam.
“Our fellow citizens expect actions,” Macron said on Tuesday, promising that the government will intensify a crackdown on radical Islam.