France: the trial began on the terrorist attacks in Paris

From Paris

Paris revisits from this Wednesday, September 8, one of the most tragic moments of the 21st century: the trial of those responsible for the attacks of November 13, 2015 in the course of which a command of the Islamic State (ISIS) murdered 130 people in Saint-Denis and the French capital. In Paris, the bloodiest places of the massacre were the eastern neighborhoods and the Bataclan theater. In total 20 defendants appear before a special court, but only one of the 10 members of the ISIS command survived the events and it is the only one directly linked to the massacre. Is about Salam Abdeslam, a 31-year-old Franco-Moroccan around whom a thick mystery persists. Abdeslam was wearing a belt bomb that he decided not to operate. The man did not kill anyone without it being known if he gave up his purpose or if there was a problem with the belt. Salam Abdeslam, after his capture, gave both versions.

This Wednesday, as soon as he entered the Court, the French-Moroccan, protected by a bulletproof glass and guarded by a score of agents, expressed his total adherence to the Islamic State. When the President of the Court, Jean-Louis Peries, asked him his profession the jihadist said: “I left any profession to become a fighter of the Islamic State.” Then, in a defiant tone, he pronounced the chahada, the Islamist profession of faith: “First of all, I want to attest that there is no divinity other than Allah and that Muhammad is his servant and messenger.” Later, after a break, Abdeslam complained about the conditions of his detention. This time with a voice of protest, he said: “Everything is very nice here, there are flat screens, but there … I have been treated like a dog for more than six years. I have not complained for a single reason, because when I die I will rise again ”. The president of the court replied: “here we are in an ecclesiastical court, but rather in a democratic court.”

The longest trial in history

The process will last 9 months and there will be hundreds of witnesses, among them the former socialist president François Hollande (in power when the events occurred) as well as the 1,800 victims who are part of the accusation and more than 330 attorneys representing all parties. An exceptional event, the trial will be filmed and will constitute, according to Christian Saint-Palais, the lawyer for one of the defendants, “the longest trial in history.” The files occupy a voluminous space in the audience room where there are a total of 542 volumes.

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The testimonies offered by the survivors of that night all had the same painful echo: “I will never forget, I will never be able to overcome it” (Marc). “It is impossible, those hours remain intact in my memory, I will not be able, I think, to turn the page of those hours, of the shots, of the constant threat of death” (Jean). Paul Henri was the first victim on November 13. Henri was the member of the security service at the Stade de France where the carnage began. One of the terrorists exploded the bomb vest he was wearing next to him. He was deaf in one ear and marked forever: “I have not escaped unscathed, I have nightmares, it is hard,” he said in his testimony. Of the 20 defendants present, even if he did not explode his belt, Salam Abdeslam is the only one who wandered with death in tow throughout that night that, after the January attacks of the same year against the satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo, forever changed French society, the laws and the way of facing the fight against terrorism. The rest of the 19 defendants, for the most part, were part of the logistics and support chain that allowed the command to carry out the massacre.

In several meetings with the media before the process, François Molins, the Public Prosecutor of the Republic at that time, explained that this long trial will be very useful “for the families of the victims because it will allow them to understand what happened” and also, according to the former Prosecutor , “Build a collective memory through which the values ​​of humanity and dignity of the society in which we live are reaffirmed.”

The investigations carried out over these six years made it possible to accurately reconstruct the way in which the attacks were prepared. There is no chance, no hasty act. The coordinated terrorist act of November 13, 2015 responds to a plan drawn up and prepared for several months, in several countries, by a cell made up of about 30 people. Historical attack due to the intensity of the crime, investigations and historical judgment due to the complexity of the assembly, the central protagonist of the events, the Islamic State, and the other actors in the massacre. Most of them are jihadists born on French or European territory tempted by revenge and bloody action as the means of perpetrating it.

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