For the victims, it is “the end of a sprint” and “the start of a marathon”

At the specially composed assize court in Paris,

In the corridors of the historic courthouse of Paris, Ile de la Cité, black dresses are flocking this Wednesday morning. Responsible for representing the nearly 1,800 civil parties in the trial of the November 13 attacks which has just opened, few lawyers are accompanied by their clients. “For many victims, this first day is forensic technique and it is not yet their time,” explains Arthur Dénouveaux, the president of the Life for Paris association. The first days of this river trial will indeed be devoted to calling witnesses and civil parties.

However, this date remains “exceptional” in the eyes of this thirty-something victim of the attack committed at the Bataclan (11th). “I’m here because it’s important, it’s a strong symbol. It’s also the end of the trial preparation sprint and the start of the marathon. There is a form of adrenaline, ”he continues, facing the swarm of cameras installed a few meters from the courtroom specially built for the occasion. At the beginnings of this “extraordinary and historic trial”, as the president of the specially composed Assize Court called it, the civil parties are now waiting for an “exemplary” trial.

Very different expectations

Paul-Henri Baure was at the Stade de France on the evening of November 13, 2015. “I was in charge of security, gate H when a terrorist blew himself up within ten meters of us,” he explains. Injured to his feet and an ankle, he suffered significant hearing loss. For thirty months, this professional who still works in security, was forced to stop his activity. Paul-Henri Baure, who has since become a member of the 13Onze15 association, wanted to make the trip this Wednesday morning. Green cord around his neck – which means that he agrees to talk to journalists – and a dark suit on his back, the man laughs “feeling very good” a few minutes before the start of the hearing. .

Unlike Arthur Dénouveaux who explains “expect nothing” from the accused in the box, Paul-Henri, he confides: “I expect them to repent (…) even if it is unlikely, it is necessary”. According to the lawyer Gérard Chemla who defends 130 victims in this case, the hopes of his clients differ for each of them: “Some people expect that we do not talk to them too much and that the trial goes on. Others will wait for face-to-face meetings to take place, for questions to be asked. “” Among the 800 victims that we accompanied, there are those who were impatiently awaiting the hearing and who are extremely well documented. Others deny it completely and do not want to hear about it, ”also notes Marie-Claude Desjeux, president of the National Federation of Victims of Attacks and Collective Accidents (Fenvac).

A response to barbarism

On the other hand, lawyers as civil parties agree on one point: this hearing must take place under the best possible conditions. “We must manage to restore dignity, humanity and a little height of vision in what will be the trial of one of the most abominable crimes that we have known in France and that we can really respond with a democratic expression ”, hopes Me Gérard Chemla. Very moved, Marie-Claude Desjeux abounds: “This trial must be exemplary. The only way to respond to barbarism is by expressing democracy. “

An exemplary exercise to which the parties had to comply from this first day. As during his trial in Brussels in February 2018, the main defendant Salah Abdeslam immediately presented himself as a “fighter of the Islamic State”. Words that aroused few reactions in the room. After the discomfort of one of his co-defendants, the only survivor of the November 13 commandos reiterated, delivering a virulent religious diatribe. Very calm, the president of the specially composed assize court simply reminded Salah Abdeslam that he was before a “secular court”. A few hours earlier, just before entering the room, Arthur Dénouveaux had warned, for the attention of the box: “We don’t want to owe anything to these people and we don’t want any interaction with them. We are there to tell what we have suffered, to tell the story of collective resilience and then we will let justice do its work. “

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