Charlie Hebdo artist seized by gunmen recalls sheer terror during 2015 attack

Charlie Hebdo artist seized by gunmen recalls sheer terror during 2015 attack
A man looks at a painting by French street artist Christian Guemy in Paris in tribute to the members of the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo (Michel Euler/AP)

The Charlie Hebdo caricaturist who was forced at gunpoint to open the satirical newspaper’s door to two al Qaida extremists has described the moments of sheer terror during the 2015 attack in France.

Corinne Rey had tears in her eyes but her voice was clear as she gave evidence at the trial of 13 men and one woman accused of helping three men plot the attacks on January 7-9 2015 in Paris.

Seventeen people, including 12 in and around Charlie Hebdo’s offices, four at a kosher supermarket and a policewoman, were killed.

All three attackers were killed in subsequent police raids.

This is something I will live with the rest of my life. I felt so powerless, felt so guilty

Corinne Rey, Charlie Hebdo artist

The attack at the newspaper happened during a weekly meeting, and the victims included most of the paper’s editorial staff.

Only at the moment when Ms Rey described leading them to the wrong floor of the building did she falter, crouching down and holding her arms over her head in a replay of her reaction as the gunmen realised her mistake.

Said and Cherif Kouachi targeted Charlie Hebdo because they believed the newspaper blasphemed Islam by publishing caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed.

They told Ms Rey they were sparing her life because she was a woman.

“This is something I will live with the rest of my life. I felt so powerless, felt so guilty,” she said.

Now, she said: “I expect justice to be done here. It is the law of men that rules, and not the law of God, as the terrorists would have it.”

On the day the trial opened last week, Charlie Hebdo reprinted the caricatures.

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