Trial of November 13: “What the victims mostly expect is that the justice of the Republic is pronounced”

This Wednesday, September 8 opens the trial of the attacks of November 13, 2015, which hit Paris and Saint-Denis, and led to the death of 130 people. An extraordinary trial, which has no less than 1,800 civil parties, more than 300 lawyers, and should last 9 months. A moment eagerly awaited by the victims, despite their anxieties.

A courtroom of colossal dimensions has been specially built at the Paris courthouse, on the Île de la Cité, to accommodate the hundreds of people who will take part in this trial. It is the largest criminal hearing ever organized in France. In a few hours, Philippe Duperron will be seated on the benches of this room, in front of the magistrates of the special assize court of Paris. Since 2017, he has chaired the association 13Onze15 Fraternité et Vérité, which supports the victims of the attacks, both in their administrative procedures and in the preparation of the trial, and creates discussion groups.

He awaits this historic audience with a firm footing, not without apprehension: “We are waiting with a form of impatience and a form of anxiety, because we know that it will be a painful moment. Painful for two reasons: because such a long trial, no one has ever experienced it. Neither the magistrates, nor the lawyers, nor the civil parties. It will also be painful because we know that during this trial, many people will speak at the bar, in particular the civil parties, and their testimonies will inevitably bring up painful memories to the surface. .. “

He himself lost a son at the Bataclan on the evening of November 13. If he was not touched in his flesh, the trial will revive the extremely difficult memories of the hours spent looking for his son in the hospitals of the capital, only to learn of his death.

“UNHAPERLY, FOR MANY, THIS TRIAL WILL NOT CHANGE ANYTHING”

Nothing can repair, in any way, the damage suffered by the victims of the attacks. But the fact that twenty defendants, who participated to varying degrees in the attacks, such as Salah Abdeslam, the only survivor of the commando which sowed fear in the streets of Paris, are tried before the specially composed Assize Court: there lies all the interest of these months of hearings.

“We expect nothing from this trial other than justice and recognition of the status of victim, insists Master Samia Maktouf, lawyer at the Paris bar, who represents nearly 40 civil parties. Unfortunately, for many, this trial will not change anything. We will not change the tragedies, traumas, material, physical and psychological handicaps, she recalls. But its behavior is essential. “

While this will not erase the horror of the night of November 13, it remains the culmination of six long years of waiting. For the victims, for their loved ones, but also for France. For Philippe Duperron, “what the victims mostly expect is for the trial to take place. May the justice of the Republic, Republic which was targeted that evening, rule, pronounce the penalties, and recognize the state of victim. ” A dignified and fair trial, that is what the 13Onze15 association is fighting for.

Understand what happened on November 13

After almost six years of investigation, it is still difficult for many victims to understand what happened, to answer the question of “why?”. For Me Maktouf, if this trial will in no way change the lives of the victims and will not repair their injuries, perhaps it will allow them to better understand the facts: “By attending this extraordinary trial, the victims will be able to s ‘express, hear, ask questions, and maybe they will be able to understand even a little better what happened. ”

The lawyer, however, warned her clients, so that they do not hope to hear great explanations or confessions from the defendants, convinced that Salah Abdeslam will remain locked in his silence. Since his arrest in Brussels in March 2016, the latter has chosen the strategy of silence, speaking only very rarely to the investigators who questioned him.

If the victims will be able to confront the fourteen defendants present in the courtroom, and be able to show them that they survived, “they are not in a state of revenge or revenge. They are in the future, in anticipation of anything that could constitute an answer, even minimal ”, confides Me Samia Maktouf.

Recognition of victim status

The fight of the penalist is also that of the recognition of the status of victim in the eyes of justice: “It is a legitimate expectation. It is very important that there is recognition, because the status of victim is not pleasant to live with. Unfortunately, they are not always treated well, we do not always meet their expectations, we do not always meet all their material requests. The contribution of this trial is recognition and consideration for the victims. ”

However, when the trial is over, will they be able to put this episode of their lives behind them? “There is in this trial a form of outcome and undoubtedly for many, it will be a way of turning a page of an important chapter, analyzes Philippe Duperron. But none of us will definitely turn the page, because we are all indelibly marked. Those who have been confronted with gunfire, bullets, those who have lost a loved one. This wound will never be healed. ”

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