2015 Paris attacks trial hears oral arguments


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Paris (AFP)- The trial into the November 2015 attacks in Paris, the worst terror attack in French history, heard the start of closing arguments on Wednesday from the three lead prosecutors in the case.

For three days, prosecutors will detail their version of the events of November 13, 2015, when 130 people died at the Bataclan concert hall and elsewhere in shootings that traumatized the country.

In accordance with French legal procedure, the prosecutors will then set out their assessment of the level of guilt of each defendant and finally, on Friday, will recommend the sentence.

In the dock is Salah Abdeslam, the only surviving member of the Islamist massacre who opened fire in the crowded concert hall and on the terraces of the cafes in the adjacent streets, as well as at the Stade de France sports hall. .

Also on trial are 19 other people accused of having helped the killers to varying degrees.

Twelve, including Abdeslam, face life in prison, the maximum sentence under French law.

“What will we remember from this trial? What images? What words?” prosecutor Camille Hennetier asked as she delivered her closing remarks in what is the biggest trial ever in France, which began in September 2021.

“Your verdict, of course,” she said.

“And the names of the dead that were read out in September. The testimonies of the survivors. And finally, no doubt, the cruelty of the terrorists who fired repeatedly and enjoyed killing.”

The length of the trial, its emotional charge and the number of plaintiffs — 2,500 — made it the most significant legal proceeding in French history.

Six suspects are being tried in absentia, including five senior members of the Islamic State believed to have died in Syria.

“Illogical” claim

Abdeslam, a 32-year-old Frenchman arrested in Belgium after five months on the run, remained silent during the police investigation but spoke up during the trial, explaining how he gave up blowing himself up and apologized to the victims.

But his tearful plea for forgiveness had little impact on prosecutors, who do not believe Abdeslam has really changed his mind about the attack. Instead, they say, his explosive belt simply malfunctioned.

Prosecutors also said the defendant’s claim that he was recruited by a jihadist cell just days before the attacks was “strange” and “illogical”.

They are expected to call for Abdeslam to be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole, a verdict handed down very rarely in France and which rules out any further reduction in his sentence.

Most life-sentenced prisoners in France are released after 20 to 25 years.

Defense attorneys’ closing arguments begin next week and verdicts are scheduled for June 29.


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