Tue, 09 Aug 2022

Verdicts for the 14 men accused of involvement or complicity in the November 2015 terrorist attacks, which cost 132 lives and left more than 400 seriously injured, are to be handed down on Wednesday. RFI English has covered the trial in its entirety. We take a look back at some of the crucial moments in a historic hearing.

The trial opened in the Palais de Justice in central Paris to enormous media interest and under extreme security on 8 September, 2021.

A total of 20 men were variously charged with crimes ranging from association with a terrorist organisation, to aiding and abetting terrorist criminals.

Fourteen of the accused appeared in court. One man is serving a ten-year sentence in Turkey.

The authorities in Ankara refused to send him to Paris; the other five are absent, presumed dead in air strikes against Islamic State positions in Syria and Iraq. Here are ten articles from RFI English that will help understand what has happened in the run up to the verdict.

1. The French Republic seeks solace and reconciliation in the ritual of justice

Of the accused, Salah Abdeslam is the only survivor of the three squads whose members staged attacks at the Stade de France football stadium, at bar and cafe terraces in the 10th and 11th districts of the French capital, and at the Bataclan concert venue, packed for a rock concert featuring the American band Eagles of Death Metal.

Abdeslam was quick to make his presence felt, declaring himself to be an Islamic State fighter and an ardent Muslim who accepted no justice but that of Almighty God.

2. 'We are not in an ecclesiastic tribunal', court responds to killing squad survivor Salah Abdeslam

"The hearing is open. Please be seated." With those words, Jean-Louis Periès, president of the five-person tribunal, launched the trial of twenty men believed to have been associated with the planning and execution of a series of attacks carried out by so-called Islamic State commando units in the French capital six years ago.

3. Reliving the horror of Paris attacks as police experts detail 'crime scenes'

One of the unique aspects of this extraordinary exercise in justice has been the place given to the families of those who lost loved ones in the attacks. Their testimonies would finally take nearly six weeks to hear, weeks filled with tears, anger and courage.

4. Victims and the bereaved begin to build a vast verbal memorial to the dead and injured

There were other witnesses, including Francois Hollande, who was French president at the time of the attacks. He came to defend his administration against accusations of security failures.

5. We tried everything to prevent Paris attacks, ex-president Hollande tells court

The official death toll in the immediate aftermath of the attacks was 130. But the psychological pressure proved to be too great for some who survived. The court has since recognised two suicides as victims of the November 2015 massacres.

6.Father describes the tragic fate of the 131st victim of the November 2015 massacres

The investigation of the November 2015 attacks mobilised police forces in France, Belgium, Austria and Greece. Much of the evidence was collected in Belgium.

7. Belgian police testimony on terror suspect leaves crucial questions unanswered

If the accused remained, for the most part, silent observers in their secure glass box, they were given several opportunities to testify. Some did so with conviction.

8. 'I can't give her back her daughter. But I owe that woman an answer to her questions'

Not all of the accused were as convincing.

9. Anger in Paris court as terrorist Abdeslam asks for chance to start his life over

And then, after nine months of evidence and harrowing testimony, the prosecution called on the court to find each of the accused guilty and to punish them accordingly. It was time for the lawyers representing the accused to have their final word

10. Defence lawyers launch last, crucial phase of November 2015 terror trial

Thirteen of the 14 men being judged for their implication in the November 2015 terrorist attacks chose to address the court on Monday. They variously expressed gratitude, contrition, sympathy for the survivors, the bereaved. There were tears.

Originally published on RFI

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