• Saturday, Dec 03, 2022
  • Last Update : 10:24 am

France begins marathon trial over November 2015 attacks

  • Published at 05:20 am September 8th, 2021
France trial
Journalists stand outside of the temporary courtroom at the Palais de Justice of Paris — Paris’ courthouse, ahead of the November 13, 2015 Paris attacks’ trial AFP

The suicide bombing and gun assault by three teams of jihadists was the country's worst post-war atrocity, killing 130 people

The biggest trial in France's modern legal history begins on Wednesday over the November 2015 attacks on Paris that saw 130 people killed at bars, restaurants and the Bataclan concert hall.

The only surviving attacker, Salah Abdeslam, will be in the dock at the purpose-built facility at the historic court of justice on the Ile de la Cite in central Paris, along with 13 other defendants.

Six others are being tried in absentia. Twelve of the 20 people on trial, including Abdeslam, face life sentences if convicted.

"We are entering the unknown," said Arthur Denouveaux, a survivor of the Bataclan music venue attack and president of Life for Paris, a victims' association. "We can't wait for it to start, but we're asking, How will it be for the next nine months?"

The trial will last until May 2022, with 145 days for hearings involving about 330 lawyers, 300 victims and former president Francois Hollande, who will testify in November. The case file runs to a million pages in 542 volumes, measuring 53 metres across.

Justice Minister Eric Dupond-Moretti this week described the trial as "historic" and "one of all superlatives" as he inspected the courtroom.

Silent suspect 

Surviving gunman Abdeslam, now 31, who was born in Belgium but has French and Moroccan nationality, fled the scene of the carnage after abandoning his suicide belt, which investigators later found to be defective.

He was captured four months later in Brussels, hiding in a building close to his family home. Abdeslam has resolutely refused to cooperate with the French investigation and remained largely silent throughout a separate trial in Belgium in 2018, where he declared only that he put his "trust in Allah" and that the court was biased.

A major question is whether he will speak at his scheduled testimony, set for mid-January. Another focus of the trial will be on how the squad of killers managed to enter France undetected, allegedly using the flow of migrants from Islamic State-controlled regions of Syria as cover.

Fourteen of the accused -- who face charges ranging from providing logistical support to planning the attacks as well as weapons offences -- are expected to be present in court. They include a Swedish national, Osama Krayem, who Belgian investigators have identified as one of the killers of a Jordanian pilot burned alive in a cage by IS in early 2015 in Syria. He is also under investigation in Sweden for war crimes.

The alleged coordinator, Belgian national Abdelhamid Abaaoud, was killed by French police northeast of Paris five days after the attacks. Of the six tried in absentia, five are presumed dead, mainly in airstrikes in Syria.

Harrowing statements 

The horror was unleashed late on the night of Friday, November 13, when jihadists detonated suicide belts outside the Stade de France stadium where Hollande was in the crowd watching France play a football match against Germany. A single person was killed there. 

A group of Islamist gunmen, including Abdeslam's brother Brahim, later opened fire from a car on half a dozen restaurants in the trendy 10th and 11th Arrondissements of the capital, which were packed with people on the balmy autumn evening.

The massacre culminated at the Bataclan music venue. Three jihadists stormed in during a performance, killing a total of 90 people. While the trial's initial phase will be devoted to procedural issues, raw emotion is expected from September 28 when testimony begins from some 300 survivors and relatives of victims for five weeks of harrowing statements.

Security forces will be on high alert.

50
Facebook 50
blogger sharing button blogger
buffer sharing button buffer
diaspora sharing button diaspora
digg sharing button digg
douban sharing button douban
email sharing button email
evernote sharing button evernote
flipboard sharing button flipboard
pocket sharing button getpocket
github sharing button github
gmail sharing button gmail
googlebookmarks sharing button googlebookmarks
hackernews sharing button hackernews
instapaper sharing button instapaper
line sharing button line
linkedin sharing button linkedin
livejournal sharing button livejournal
mailru sharing button mailru
medium sharing button medium
meneame sharing button meneame
messenger sharing button messenger
odnoklassniki sharing button odnoklassniki
pinterest sharing button pinterest
print sharing button print
qzone sharing button qzone
reddit sharing button reddit
refind sharing button refind
renren sharing button renren
skype sharing button skype
snapchat sharing button snapchat
surfingbird sharing button surfingbird
telegram sharing button telegram
tumblr sharing button tumblr
twitter sharing button twitter
vk sharing button vk
wechat sharing button wechat
weibo sharing button weibo
whatsapp sharing button whatsapp
wordpress sharing button wordpress
xing sharing button xing
yahoomail sharing button yahoomail