Justice. Trèbes and Carcassonne attacks in 2018: seven people will be tried at the assizes

A trial at the assizes was ordered for seven people suspected of having helped to varying degrees the author of the Trèbes and Carcassonne attacks in 2018, who had killed four people, including Constable Arnaud Beltrame, before being shot dead by the gendarmes.

Radouane Lakdim, killed during the GIGN attack on a supermarket in Trèbes (Aude) where he had taken refuge, did not benefit from any complicity, but seven people around him, six men and a woman aged 22 at 33, favored his acting out, consider the three investigating judges responsible for this case.

Most lived at the time of the events in the Ozanam housing estate in Carcassonne, where the author of the attacks also lived, a radicalized common law offender, aged 25. All claimed to ignore the criminal project of the attacker, who was fascinated by weapons and hated law enforcement.

Participation in a criminal terrorist conspiracy

On the morning of March 23, 2018, Radouane Lakdim stole a car in Carcassonne. Armed, he kills the 61-year-old passenger and injures the 26-year-old driver.

He then fires on a group of CRS near their barracks, wounds one of them then joins a Super U supermarket in Trèbes.

Presenting himself as a soldier of the Islamic State (IS) group and shouting “Allahu Akbar”, he kills a butcher and a customer. He then cut the throat of Lieutenant-Colonel Arnaud Beltrame who had given himself up in place of a hostage, before being himself killed.

In their indictment order, signed on Wednesday and viewed by theAFPthe investigating judges go further than the requisitions of the national anti-terrorist prosecutor’s office (Pnat) and retain the participation in a criminal terrorist association for five of the suspects.

Among them are the assailant’s girlfriend and closest friend, Marine Pequignot, 22, and Samir Manaa, 27. Marine Pequignot, a convert “totally steeped in jihadist ideology”, had justified the attacks of Radouane Lakdim, whom she had been seeing for several years, during her police custody. “You don’t understand religion. But every Muslim must defend religion, in word or in deed,” she assured, before later qualifying her remarks.

Samir Manaa, also a common law offender, played sports and drug trafficking with Radouane Lakdim. Fifteen days before the facts, he had accompanied him to buy the dagger used to cut the throat of Arnaud Beltrame.

Three other men, Sofiane Boudebbouza, 24 years old, Reda El Yaakoubi, 32 years old, and Ahmed Arfaoui, 27 years old, are seen returned for criminal qualifications whereas the Pnat had held against them only offenses.

Already convicted when he was a minor for having planned to go to the Iraqi-Syrian zone in 2017, Sofian Boudebbouza is accused of having provided intellectual support to Radouane Lakdim during discussions on a forum committed to jihadist ideology.

Ahmed Arfaoui, the author’s brother-in-law, had cleaned the Lakdim’s family home, taking a bulky bag with him, before a search by the police.

Related offenses

Finally, two other suspects, Baghdad H. and Sofiane M., are dismissed for related offences, in particular the possession of weapons.

Sofiane M. had been indicted for criminal terrorist association. The reduction of the charges against him “is a good decision which was not easy to obtain, given the popular pressure and the unsustainable nature of these terrorist acts which I am the first to condemn”, reacted his lawyer, Mr. Pierre Debuisson.

The other lawyers contacted did not respond or did not wish to react.

A forty-year-old, indicted since 2019, on the other hand, benefits from a dismissal. Presented as a surrogate father of Radouane Lakdim, he was an informant for the intelligence services.

He had reported his radicalization in 2014, then alerted to his behavior in January 2018. But a report dated January 16, 2018 proposed “a standby surveillance” of the assailant, no element testifying to his belonging to the movement jihadist.

IS had claimed responsibility for these attacks, a claim deemed “opportunistic” by the courts: the investigations did not establish contact between Radouane Lakdim and the organization.

Justice. Trèbes and Carcassonne attacks in 2018: seven people will be tried at the assizes