In Paris, at the specially composed Assize Court,
He appeared last in the accused’s box, all dressed in black, his hair slicked back, his full beard hidden under his mask, also black. From the first minutes of the trial, Salah Abdeslam, the only surviving member of the commandos of November 13, 2015, stood out from the thirteen other defendants present. “I want to testify that there is no other deity but Allah and that Mohammad is his servant and his messenger,” he declared, in a calm, almost monotonous voice, as the President of the Special Assize Court, Jean-Louis Periès, questioned him about his identity, as required by criminal proceedings.
Impassive, the magistrate continues. Name of parents? “The names of my father and my mother have nothing to do in this room,” he blurted. Profession? “I gave up any profession to become a fighter of the Islamic State”, proclaims the accused. “I had noted interim”, retorts the president. Address ? ” None “. In a few moments, France’s most closely watched detainee set the tone for what his defense will likely be during these nine months of hearing. And this while this day was not devoted to the substance of the case but to the dizzying appeal of the civil parties.
A few hours later, when one of his co-defendants becomes uneasy, Salah Abdeslam shines again, violently attacking the president on their conditions of detention. “Dangerous or not, we are men, human beings,” he yells from the box. And to add: “It’s been six years that I have been treated like a dog, I accept it because I know that after death, I will be resuscitated. This time, the magistrate firmly invites him to sit down.
“We expected this attitude”
The attitude of Salah Abdeslam, as provocative as it is, is not a surprise. He only cooperated with justice once, after his arrest in Belgium in March 2016. He has since always remained silent, even during his trial in February 2018 in Brussels for a shooting. He then refused to stand up, to state his identity or to explain himself on the facts, claiming only to place his “trust in Allah”. “We expected this attitude, we even prepared for it,” says Arthur Dénouveaux, president of the association of victims Life for Paris. What I remember is not his attitude, it is that of the president, who is doing everything to ensure that this trial takes place as normally as possible. “
The magistrate has indeed reiterated his desire to conduct this trial, certainly “extraordinary” and “historic”, like any other. “If we refer to the very essence of a criminal trial, what matters is precisely the respect of the norm, in clear the application of the criminal procedure and the rights of each one”, a- he insisted. However, in any trial, the accused have the right to speak, answer questions or remain silent.
“Make the mariole”
On the benches of the civil parties, few are those to react to the attitude of Abdeslam. He wanted to “play the game”, loose Thierry leaving the large courtroom built for the event. The man, keen on rock, was at the Bataclan on the evening of November 13, 2015. If he intends to come regularly during the trial, he does not expect much. No answer, not even a step to resume the course of his life. “I moved on, but I am reminded all the time, says the man who hid that evening in a lodge for several hours. I would always live with it, I still have nightmares. “
Mohamed Amghar was seriously injured at the Stade de France while providing security for the France-Germany match. What strikes the former vigil, this Wednesday, is the face of Salah Abdeslam. Pale, almost serene, convinced of his excesses. “He says things but it feels like he doesn’t realize what it means. I have no hatred, but pity for him, ”he confides. One question remains: could this attitude push some civil parties not to testify? Thierry like Mohamed, them, will answer present. Like 300 other civil parties.