14 of the defendants will attend the trial, including Salah Abdeslam, the only surviving attacker. The trial will continue until the end of May 2022. It has allotted 145 days of hearings with some 330 lawyers, 300 survivors and testimonies from, among others, President François Hollande.
The trial after the shocking jihadist attacks, which were planned from Syria, is unparalleled in scope. Court documents total about one million pages in 542 volumes, which is the equivalent of about 53 meters of shelves.
Everyone has their own expectations, but we know that this is an important milestone for the rest of our lives, says Arthur Denovo.
He survived the attack on the Bataclan Concert Arena, and heads up the Survivors’ Organization, Life for Paris. In addition to the Bataclan, many nightclubs and stadiums have come under attack.
Six convicted in absentia
Abdus Salam, 31, fled the scene after removing his belt with an unsuccessful suicide bombing.
He was arrested four months later in his hometown of Brussels. Abdeslam refused to cooperate with the investigation in France, remaining largely silent during another trial in Belgium in 2018.
He then claimed that he “trusted God alone” and believed the court had sentenced him. One of the big questions at the trial is whether Abdeslam will speak when he goes to court in January.
Another important question during the trial was how a group of jihadists entered France undetected. They allegedly hid among large crowds of refugees from the Islamic State group in Syria.
The other 13 defendants who are expected to appear in court are charged with everything from participating in planning the attack and providing logistical support for firearms law violations.
Six of the accused will be convicted in their absence, five of whom are believed to have died. Those killed mainly in air strikes in Syria, among them the French brothers Fabien and Jean-Michel Klein.
I started on the football field
French police killed Belgian Abdelhamid Abaaoud, believed to be the mastermind of the attacks, outside Paris five days after the attacks.
The massacre in Paris began in the late evening of November 13, when jihadists blew themselves up outside the Stade Nationale de France, where France played an international match against Germany.
President Francois Hollande was present. Only one person was killed in this attack, a 63-year-old Portuguese named Manuel Colaco Dias.
Then a group of jihadists, including Abdeslam Ibrahim’s brother, began shooting violently from a car at a number of restaurants in a trendy area of Paris. There were many people in the nightclubs, and on an unusually hot evening there were many in the outside cafes. 39 people were killed in these attacks.
90 were killed at the concert venue
The biggest attack took place in the Bataclan concert hall. The American group Eagles of Death Metal held a concert in a crowded arena. Three jihadists, including Abd al-Salam, stormed during the song “The Devil’s Kiss”.
90 people were killed and many more injured in a brutal massacre in the Bataclan. They were also taken hostage, but later recovered peacefully. The police ended the massacre and two of the three hostages were killed.
Holland declared a state of emergency and closed the borders. This was the first time that a state of emergency had been declared in France since the war in Algeria in the late 1950s. This is the second major terrorist attack in France in less than a year. Ten months ago, jihadists attacked the editorial board of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris and a Jewish grocery store in the capital, killing 20 people.
Expect strong feelings
The trial is expected to clarify the psychological wounds of the survivors, the 350 wounded and the families of the victims. For five weeks from September 28, they will testify.
– I should be there. I will suffer, but it will be a step in the right direction, Christina Garrido tells AFP. Garrido’s son, Juan Alberto, was among those killed in the Bataclan.
– What I want is for them to hear about the pain they left us, she says from Madrid.
Attorney Olivia Ronen leads the group defending Abdeslam. She acknowledges that the trial will be very emotional, but adds that the court must keep that at a distance if it is to be able to comply with the principles of the rule of law.
The verdict is expected to be issued on May 24 and 25 next year.
The only similar trial in modern French history is the Charlie Hebdo attack. That trial began in September 2020. While the case was ongoing, France was shaken by other terrorist attacks by young jihadists, including the brutal murder of teacher Samuel Baty and a knife attack on a church in Nice.
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