Europe 1 with AFP / Photo credits: LOIC VENANCE / AFP 17:32 pm, September 25, 2023The trial of Mohamed Lamine Aberouz, an alleged accomplice of Larossi Abballa who killed two police officers at their home, in front of their 3-year-old child, in Magnanville in the Yvelines, opened on Monday and is scheduled to last until October 10. On that first day, he categorically distanced himself from the assassin.
"I reiterate my strongest condemnations of Larossi (Abballa) for this monstrous act he committed." From the first day of his trial, Mohamed Lamine Aberouz categorically distanced himself from the murderer of a couple of police officers in June 2016 in their pavilion in Magnanville in the Yvelines, under the eyes of their then three-year-old son. "I express my sympathy to the family of the victims. (Their) search for truth is logical. I hope to participate. I hope to be listened to. I reiterate my innocence," Mohamed Lamine Aberouz said.
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The latter is tried by the Special Assize Court of Paris as an alleged accomplice of Larossi Abballa. "I hope that the discussions will shed light on and highlight responsibilities that are more than neglected during the investigation," he added.
A double murder that shocked the institution
From his box, the accused looks at the bench of civil parties where took place the mother and sister of Jessica Schneider, 36 years old, administrative agent at the police station of Mantes-la-Jolie, slit by Larossi Abballa, and the parents of his companion Jean-Baptiste Salvaing, 42 years old, commander at the police station of Mureaux, killed with a knife by the same Abballa while he was returning home.
This double murder of police officers in their homes deeply shocked the institution. Many plainclothes police officers were present at the beginning of the hearing in a packed room.
"I have a thought for the two policemen," shares François Hollande
On a visit to the Pas-de-Calais, Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin spoke of "these policemen who were killed by Islamist barbarity because they were policemen, in their homes, in front of their child". "I hope that justice - I am even convinced - will condemn this person of complicity, if it is proven that he was indeed in connection with this barbaric murder," he told reporters.
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"As the trial of the Magnanville attack begins, I have a thought for the two police officers Jessica Schneider and Jean-Baptiste Salvaing cowardly murdered seven years ago during a terrorist attack," said former head of state François Hollande on his account X (ex-Twitter).
As the trial of the Magnanville attack begins, I have a thought for the two police officers Jessica Schneider and Jean-Baptiste Salvaing cowardly murdered 7 years ago during a terrorist attack. I express my support for their loved ones and colleagues who live...
— François Hollande (@fhollande) September 25, 2023
"I express my support to their loved ones and colleagues who live every day with the memory of this terrible tragedy," he added. At the opening of the trial, the court, presided over by Christophe Petiteau, accepted the civil action of the police union Unité SG Police.
Aberouz prosecuted for complicity in the murder of a person holding public authority
Mohamed Lamine Aberouz, 30, is charged with complicity in the murder of a person holding public authority, criminal terrorist conspiracy and complicity in kidnapping in connection with a terrorist enterprise. He faces life imprisonment. Committed to the cause of the Islamic State (IS) group, the couple's killer, Larossi Abballa, 25, was killed during the assault of the police of the Raid to free the child he was holding hostage.
Did he act alone? That is what the trial is all about. The prosecution is convinced that he had an accomplice in the house. It was Mr. Aberouz who "designated" the couple of police officers "as the target of the attack," says the prosecutor general. Traces of Mohamed Lamine Aberouz's DNA were found on the wrist rest of the couple's computer used to claim responsibility for the murder.
Apart from these DNA traces, no other tangible evidence of his presence at the scene could be established, argue his lawyers Vincent Brengarth and Nino Arnaud. They intend to plead acquittal. According to them, Larossi Abballa was a "lone wolf" who did not need an accomplice.
Trial scheduled to last until October 10
"Mohamed Lamine Aberouz's denials of his adherence to jihadist ideology (...) do not appear convincing or sufficient in view of the evidence gathered elsewhere," say the investigators, recalling that Aberouz and Abballa "were driven by the same ideology favorable to armed jihad". The investigation revealed that Larossi Abballa had put Mohamed Lamine Aberouz in contact with a young woman, Sarah Hervouët, currently incarcerated, and who should be heard by the court late Monday afternoon.
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Under the influence of ISIS recruiter Rachid Kassim (suspected of having piloted the murder of Father Hamel in Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray in July 2016 and probably died in the Iraqi-Syrian zone in February 2017), Sarah Hervouët was sentenced to twenty years in prison for stabbing a plainclothes policeman in September 2016 after an attempted gas cylinder attack near Notre-Dame de Paris. In this case, Mohamed Lamine Aberouz was sentenced on appeal in June 2021 to five years' imprisonment for failing to report a terrorist crime. The trial is scheduled to last until 10 October.