PARIS: French authorities have announced that the Charlie Hebdo investigation will come to a close in 2018, three years after the shooting that profoundly shocked France and marked the beginning of a series of attacks that have claimed 241 lives in total, according to an AFP toll.
Two French militants, Said and Cherif Kouachi, who had sworn allegiance to Al-Qaeda killed 11 people at Charlie Hebdo’s offices in 2015 over the coverage of Islam and the prophet Mohammed.
Anti-terror magistrates investigating the incidents are expected to finalize their probe in the next few months but have been unable to determine how the Charlie Hebdo killers — Cherif and Said Kouachi — coordinated with the supermarket shooter, Amedy Coulibaly.
Le Monde newspaper reported Sunday that 14 people had been charged in connection with the attacks and that investigators had traced the weapons to arms traffickers in north-east France and Belgium.
French President Emmanuel Macron laid a wreath on Sunday in honor of the slain journalists of Charlie Hebdo which faces falling sales and stifling security measures three years after it was attacked.
At a low-key commemoration ceremony to mark the January 7, 2015 massacre, Macron was joined by journalists from the magazine, members of his government and the mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo.
“We must never forget these terrible days,” Francois Hollande, president at the time of the attacks, wrote on Facebook on Sunday while saying France could be “proud” of its reaction to the bloodshed.
Charlie Hebdo, which prides itself on being provocative, returned to the murder of its famed cartoonists and writers in its latest issue which laid bare the struggles of the surviving staff.
“The 7th of January 2015 propelled us into a new world of armed police, secure entrances and reinforced doors, of fear and death,” wrote contributor Fabrice Nicolino in a column.
“And this in the heart of Paris and in conditions which do not honor the French republic. Do we still have a laugh? Yes,” he added.
The magazine pays between 1.0-1.5 million euros (1.2-1.8 million dollars) in security costs annually at its heavily protected offices which are at a secret location, its editor Riss wrote.
Sales meanwhile have fallen sharply since a wave of popular support — a “Je suis Charlie” defense of press freedom — following the bloodshed. It revived the financial fortunes of a business that has faced regular difficulties in the past.
Company revenues fell to 19.4 million euros in 2016, down from more than 60 million in 2015, according to figures first reported by the BFM news channel and confirmed to AFP by the magazine.
Its journalists and editors still regularly receive death threats and the magazine courted fresh controversy in November with a front-page on the Islamic scholar Tariq Ramadan who has been accused of sexually assaulting women.
The Swiss academic, who is widely read and followed in France, was depicted with a huge erection above the line: “I am the sixth pillar of Islam.”
The magazine also regularly mocks Christian and Jewish leaders as well as politicians of all stripes.
Two days after the Charlie Hebdo attack, another French extremist took hostages at a Jewish supermarket in eastern Paris, killing four people before elite police raided the premises and shot him dead.