(Paris) Six years after the jihadist attacks of November 13, 2015, the French judiciary plunged back on Wednesday and for almost nine months in the horrors of the carnage in Paris and the Paris region, which left 130 dead and more than 350 injured.
Posted on Sep 5, 2021 at 10:37 am
Anne-Sophie LASSERRE Agence France-Presse
“Suicide bombers” in the Stade de France in Saint-Denis near Paris, bar terraces and a performance hall, the Bataclan, machine-guned in the capital: France, already shaken by the attacks in the previous month of January against the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo and a Hyper Cacher store on that day the bloodiest attacks since the Second World War.
Under maximum security, the Paris Special Court, which is responsible for ruling on crimes in the area of terrorism, will bring 20 defendants to justice, including the French-Moroccan Salah Abdeslam, the only survivor of the commandos led by the Islamic State Group (IS).
Fourteen will be in attendance, six will be judged by default. In addition to Abdeslam, they are accused of helping to different degrees to have supported the preparations.
This process, exceptional in terms of the number of civil parties (almost 1,800), its emotional burden and duration, required two years of preparation and the construction of a special courtroom in the capital’s courthouse.
To complete a process of this magnitude – scheduled for the 25th
“It’s an Everest that we have to climb with little slippers,” fears Me Jean Reinhart, the lawyer for the victims’ association “13onze15 Fraternité-Vérité” and a hundred civil parties.
From the end of September to the end of October only a part – around 300 – of the relatives of the victims and survivors of the attacks will testify.
“Bring in humanity”
“We know this is an important milestone in our lives afterwards,” said Arthur Dénouveaux, Bataclan survivor and President of Life for Paris. These speeches will “bring humanity into the process”, it will be necessary to accept certain “bursts” of emotions, he warns.
On November 13, 2015, shortly after 9 p.m., a “suicide bomber” blew himself up near the Stade de France, where a friendly between France and Germany was being played. Then in the heart of Paris two three-man commandos shelled the terraces of bistros with weapons of war and shot at the audience at a concert in the Bataclan, where the attack took place shortly after midnight.
Two attackers flee, the hunt is organized. It will take five days: Abdelhamid Abaaoud, one of the most wanted French-speaking jihadists and leader of the attacks, and his accomplice are killed on November 18 in a police attack on a building in Saint-Denis where they were holed up.
As France mourns its dead, closes its borders and declares a state of emergency, an extensive investigation begins in close collaboration with the Belgian judiciary.
Four years of investigation have made it possible to reconstruct a large part of the logistics of the attacks, the journey of the members of the command through Europe, who returned from Syria on the way of the migrants, to their hiding places in Belgium and near Paris.
The investigation reveals a much larger jihadist cell behind these attacks, which also struck Brussels airport and metro on March 22, 2016, killing 32 people.
“Not an extraordinary process”
In the absence of the prime contractor, jihad veteran Osama Atar, and other senior ISIS officials, including brothers Fabien and Jean-Michel Clain, who have been believed dead and sentenced by default, all eyes will be on Salah Abdeslam and Mohamed Abrini, “The man in the hat” of the Brussels attacks.
Will the court, which won’t question her before 2022, manage to remove the last of the gray areas starting with the exact role of Salah Abdeslam, 31?
The latter remained silent during the investigation and the civil parties are already preparing for a wall of silence.
“This trial promises emotions, which the judiciary must keep at a distance if they do not want to lose sight of the principles of our rule of law,” warned the lawyers of Salah Abdeslam, Olivia Ronen. and Martin Vettes.
“We will make sure that this extraordinary process does not become an extraordinary process,” they say.
“If it is important that all actors in this process can express themselves, the victims who need their pain in order to be heard, we must not lose sight of the fact that it is above all the trial against the accused after their respective commitment and be judged in terms of their own background and personality, ”adds another defense lawyer, Léa Dordilly.
A total of 12 of the 20 defendants face life imprisonment. Three who weigh the slightest charges will appear free under judicial supervision.
More than a hundred witnesses were cited, including many French and Belgian investigators and former French President François Hollande.
This trial will be the second in relation to terrorism to be fully filmed in the judiciary’s audiovisual archives after the attacks on Charlie Hebdo and Hyper Cacher.