Trial over deadly Paris extremist attacks to begin late 2021

Trial over deadly Paris extremist attacks to begin late 2021
A minute of silence is observed at the Bataclan concert hall in Paris, days after the November 13, 2015, carnage in the French capital. (AFP)
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Updated 11 December 2020

Trial over deadly Paris extremist attacks to begin late 2021

Trial over deadly Paris extremist attacks to begin late 2021
  • Just one of the suspected perpetrators — French-Belgian Salah Abdeslam — will appear in court with the 19 others accused of providing various logistical support
  • The announcement of the beginning of the trial comes with the country again on its highest security alert following three attacks in the last months blamed on extremists

PARIS: The trial of 20 people charged over the November 13, 2015 extremist attacks in Paris that were France’s deadliest peacetime atrocity will get underway in late 2021, sources close to the case and prosecutors said on Friday.
The night of carnage on November 13, 2015 saw 130 people killed and 350 wounded when suicide bombers and gunmen attacked the Stade de France stadium, bars and restaurants in central Paris and the Bataclan concert hall.
The trial in Paris will begin on September 8, 2021 and end in March 2022, lawyers were told at a meeting at the Paris court. National anti-terror prosecutors confirmed the dates to AFP.
Just one of the suspected perpetrators — French-Belgian Salah Abdeslam — will appear in court with the 19 others accused of providing various logistical support. Six of them are targets of arrest warrants and will be tried in absentia.
The other attackers, including the suspected coordinator of the attacks — Belgian Abdelhamid Abaaoud — were killed in the wake of the strikes which were which were claimed by extremists from the Daesh group.
The trial will be a massive undertaking, with 110 days of hearings envisaged. It had been expected in January 2021 but was put back due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The announcement of the beginning of the trial comes with the country again on its highest security alert following three attacks in the last months blamed on extremists.
In September, the trial had got underway of suspected accomplices in the massacre by gunmen in January 2015 of staff on the Charlie Hebdo satirical weekly, which had published cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad.
True to its defiant reputation, the magazine then republished the cartoons to mark the start of the trial.
In the wake of that move, a Pakistan-born man wounded two people with a meat cleaver on September 25 outside Charlie Hebdo’s former offices.
Teacher Samuel Paty, who had shown his class the cartoons, was beheaded outside his school on October 16 by a radical from Chechnya. And on October 29 a man recently arrived from Tunisia killed three people with a knife in a Nice church.
In the wake of those attacks President Emmanuel Macron presented draft legislation on cracking down on extremist activity and vowed France will never renounce the right to blaspheme, in moves that have drawn anger in some Muslim countries.


US gun lobby NRA declares bankruptcy, plans to incorporate in Texas

US gun lobby NRA declares bankruptcy, plans to incorporate in Texas
Updated 15 min 28 sec ago

US gun lobby NRA declares bankruptcy, plans to incorporate in Texas

US gun lobby NRA declares bankruptcy, plans to incorporate in Texas
  • NRA execs are facing charges of illegally diverting funds for lavish personal trips and other questionable expenditures
  • New York Attorney General Letitia James said she would not allow the NRA to “evade accountability” or oversight

AUSTIN, Texas: The National Rifle Association announced Friday it has filed for bankruptcy protection and will seek to incorporate the nation’s most politically influential gun-rights group in Texas instead of New York.
The announcement came months after New York’s attorney general sued the organization over claims that top executives illegally diverted tens of millions of dollars for lavish personal trips, no-show contracts for associates and other questionable expenditures.
The coronavirus pandemic has also upended the NRA, which last year laid off dozens of employees. The group canceled its national convention and scuttled fundraising. The NRA’s bankruptcy filing listed between $100 million and $500 million in assets and between $100 million and $500 million in liabilities. Still, the NRA claimed in announcing the move that the organization was “in its strongest financial condition in years.”
The NRA filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in federal court in Dallas and said it planned to incorporate in Texas, where records show it formed a limited liability corporation, Sea Girt LLC, in November 2020. Sea Girt LLC made a separate bankruptcy filing Friday, listing fewer than $100,000 in liabilities.
In its filing, the NRA said its longtime leader, Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre, made the decision to file for bankruptcy protection in consultation with a “special litigation committee” comprised of three NRA officials that was formed in September to oversee its legal strategies. The NRA board voted Jan. 7 to clarify LaPierre’s employment agreement, giving him the power to “reorganize or restructure the affairs” of the organization.

National Rifle Association executive Wayne LaPierre and other officials of the gun lobby are facing charges of diverting the gun lobby's money for lavish personal expenses. (AFP file photo)

“The move will enable long-term, sustainable growth and ensure the NRA’s continued success as the nation’s leading advocate for constitutional freedom – free from the toxic political environment of New York,” the NRA said in a statement.
A message seeking comment was left with a Dallas lawyer who made the bankruptcy filings on behalf of the NRA and Sea Girt LLC.
Shortly after the announcement, New York Attorney General Letitia James said she would not allow the NRA to “evade accountability” or oversight. Her office’s lawsuit last year highlighted misspending and self-dealing claims that have roiled the NRA and LaPierre in recent years— from hair and makeup for his wife to a $17 million post-employment contract for himself.
“The NRA’s claimed financial status has finally met its moral status: bankrupt,” James said.
The gun-rights group boasts about 5 million members. Though headquartered in Virginia, the NRA was chartered as a nonprofit in New York in 1871 and is incorporated in the state. Going forward, the NRA said a committee will study opportunities to relocate segments of its operations to Texas and elsewhere.
The NRA’s largest creditor, owed $1.2 million, is Ackerman McQueen, which is the group’s former advertising agency that was behind the now-shuttered NRA TV service. The NRA sued the Oklahoma-based company in 2019, alleging it was being overbilled and said in Friday’s bankruptcy filing that the debt it is owed is disputed. The lawsuit is pending. A message seeking comment was left with Ackerman McQueen.
In the New York lawsuit, Ackerman McQueen was accused of aiding lavish spending by LaPierre and other NRA executives by picking up the tab and then sending a lump sum bill to the organization for “out-of-pocket expenses.”
“No financial filing can ever shroud the moral bankruptcy of Wayne LaPierre and his wife and their lap dogs on the NRA board,” said Bill Powers, an Ackerman McQueen spokesperson and former public affairs director for the NRA.
Court records also show more than $960,000 owed to Membership Marketing Partners LLC, a firm that lists its headquarters at the same address as the NRA. Another $200,000 is owed to Speedway Motorsports, the North Carolina-based company that owns and operates NASCAR tracks, according to the records.
Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbott quickly welcomed the news, tweeting: “Welcome to Texas — a state that safeguards the 2nd Amendment.” The NRA said it has more than 400,000 members in Texas and plans to hold its annual convention in Houston later this year.