Four charged with helping Paris Jewish supermarket gunman

Four charged with helping Paris Jewish supermarket gunman

PARIS - France has charged four suspects with assisting one of the Islamist gunmen who carried out the Paris attacks, a prosecutor said Wednesday.

Four men aged between 22 and 28 were charged and remanded in custody on Tuesday night, three of them suspected of having bought "equipment" for Amedy Coulibaly, who gunned down a policewoman on January 8 and killed four people in a hostage drama at a Jewish supermarket the next day.

The suspects from the Paris suburbs, who were identified as Willy P., Christophe R., Tonino G. and Michael A., were charged with "a terrorist conspiracy to harm people".

One of the four was also charged with weapons possession, Paris prosecutor Francois Molins said.

Since the attacks, police have been searching for accomplices in the entourages of Coulibaly and the two Kouachi brothers who killed 12 people in an attack on Charlie Hebdo magazine.

Coulibaly was shot dead by police in a raid to free the supermarket hostages. The Kouachi brothers were killed in a near simultaneous police assault on a print works north of Paris where they had holed up.

Molins admitted that while the probe into Coulibaly's attacks was progressing, investigators had few leads on people who might have played a role in the Charlie Hebdo attack.

Initial findings from the investigation into Coulibaly's supermarket attack "gave reason to think the target was not chosen randomly on the morning of the 9th" and had been staked out before, he said.

Three of the four suspects charged over the attacks had visited stores selling military equipment "three or four times" in December to buy equipment for Coulibaly, "namely tactical vests, several knives, a Taser and teargas canisters," he added.

Some of the equipment was found on Coulibaly after his death.

Molins said the trio was also present during the purchase of Coulibaly's Renault car and that the DNA of one of the suspects was found on two guns discovered at Coulibaly's home and on a glove retrieved at the supermarket.

Three of the four suspects had previous convictions for theft.

Both Coulibaly and Cherif Kouachi, the younger of the brothers, had served time in prison.

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