Jean-Louis Periès, president of the Paris Criminal Court, who for nine months is going to try 20 men accused of their involvement in the attacks of November 13, 2015 in Paris and Saint Denis, has declared the first open on Wednesday audience amid great anticipation.
The Bataclan generation does not give up
The process has begun with almost 50 minutes of delay between strict security measures and the confusion of the first day of the half a thousand people authorized to enter the room.
Victims and relatives of the 130 dead and hundreds of wounded in the attacks against the Bataclan hall, six terraces of the French capital and against the Stade de France, have come to the old Palace of Justice around which the French forces of order they have established a perimeter closed to the public.
Along with them were dozens of lawyers (more than 300 work for the civil parties, about thirty for the defendants) and journalists (there are 141 accredited media) distributed in more than a dozen rooms around the courtroom, which has been specially built for this trial.
The French Minister of the Interior, Gérald Darmanin, has warned this morning that if the terrorist threat in France in normal time is already “particularly high” when events like this occur, the level of risk increases even more.
Abdeslam says he is an “ISIS fighter”
The court, made up of nine professional magistrates for being a terrorist process (four of them alternates), will dedicate this first session to the constitution of the civil parties and, firstly, to the identity of the accused, among which the The one attracting the most attention, by far, is Salah Abdeslam.
He is the only one of the ten members of the three commandos that sowed terror that night of November 13, 2015, who is still alive. Abdeslam, who is 31 years old, has been the first of the 14 defendants present in court to be questioned about his identity, as well as the only one who has made a comment of a religious nature when acknowledging his membership of ISIS.
At the beginning of the hearing, when asked what his profession was by the president of the court, Jean-Louis Periès, the young French-Moroccan said that he had given up all work “to become an ISIS fighter.”
Previously, when the judge had told him to get up to give his identity, the only survivor of the commandos that perpetrated the attacks has indicated that first of all he wanted to say that “there is no God other than Allah and Muhammad is his prophet.” He has also been the only one who has not wanted to answer any of the president’s questions about his identity, by refusing to give the names of his parents.
Abdeslam managed to flee Paris hours after the massacres were perpetrated and was not arrested until March 2016 in Brussels. With the crimes for which he is accused, he could be sentenced to life imprisonment.
A “historical” process
Once the 14 defendants present in the room have been presented – 11 are imprisoned, three of them appear free – Periès has taken the floor to say that this is a “historical” process due to “the dramatic intensity” of the facts that are being tried and by its magnitude.
“Our Criminal Court’s mission is to examine the accusations of the accused,” he said, as well as “to draw all the consequences from a criminal point of view,” but not to go any further. He added that the court is distinguished from other institutions that examine the political, historical or sociological dimension of these attacks. For this reason, he reiterated that it is necessary to “maintain the dignity of justice”
Six tried in absentia
Six of the 20 defendants are not in the courtroom during the nine months of the process (the verdict is expected in the last days of May). In fact, five of them are suspected of being killed in the international coalition’s operations against members of the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq.
As there is no definitive proof of their death, the French Justice decided to take them to trial just in case. Keep in mind that one of them is Oussama Atar, considered the one who ordered the attacks. Reason for which he is the only one who is charged with the charge of directing a terrorist organization.
Arthur Denouveaux, president of Life for Peace, one of the associations of victims of these attacks, explained to the press just before the start of the hearing what his expectations are. “I hope – he said – that a normal French justice comes to respond to an act of the most abominable, of the most abnormal possible. That would be a response of our democracy to terrorism.”