Challenging week for families as Paris terror trial reviews forensic details

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The second week of the trial in Paris of those accused of participating in the terrorist assassination of 130 people in November 2015 made us discover the legal intricacies of the crimes allegedly committed against the harsh humanity of the dead, dying and seriously ill. wounded.

A week is a long time in criminal justice.

Five days which began with the reading of the last pages of the monumental 10-hour summary of the president of the tribunal on the case ended with 22 seconds of sound recorded at the Bataclan as the attack began, which left 90 dead.

“An infinite,” said the policeman who played the short sound segment.

Time, as those who continue to suffer the consequences of that night six years ago tragically know, is treacherously flexible.

During this long week, we had the overall assessment of the anti-terrorism police, followed by the testimony of the investigators who worked on each of the crime scenes, the Stade de France, the targeted bars and restaurants in central Paris, and finally the Bataclan. .

Huge amount of details in the police account

The detail of the police reconstruction of the events is impressive. A combination of GPS tracking, analysis of cell phone messages and footage from security cameras on every street in Paris means we can tell and see where every attacker was at virtually every moment leading up to the killings.

We have walked the same terrain over and over again, each time from a slightly different perspective. The names of the dead are always the same. Families sit through it all.

The silent images captured by the cameras of the first bar terrace targeted, the Carillon, showing victims incomprehensibly carried away by the flashes of automatic rifles, were deeply disturbing for us professional onlookers. What effect they had on those who lost their families in this attack defies the imagination.

Likewise, the legal-medical language which often says more than it intends: a ground covered with “organic residues”, effect of “massive ballistic impact” on a human body, “initially unidentifiable “,” Thirty-six gunshot wounds “. Families sit through it all.

What to do about Salah Abdeslam?

Finally, and briefly, a word on Salah Abdeslam.

He is the sole survivor of the suicide squads that sowed fear, death and desolation in Paris on the night of November 13, 2015. He frequently interrupted legal proceedings with complaints and statements. His intrusions were first tolerated by the presiding judge, then silenced.

Many journalists covering the case recognized the danger of giving it too much attention.

On Wednesday, along with the 13 other defendants who are physically present in court, Abdeslam had the opportunity to make a brief statement.

Typically, he seizes the opportunity with both hands.

Salah Abdeslam blamed France for the November killings, saying he and the other jihadists came to avenge the women and children killed by the French bombardments against ISIS positions in Syria. He denied being a terrorist, describing himself and his co-attackers as representatives of “genuine Islam”.

The families of the bereaved and injured have mostly ignored him, dismissing his “explanation” as low-level ISIS propaganda.

Confrontation impossible according to court rules

Some survivors, however, hope to confront Abdeslam directly.

“I want to look him in the eye and tell him what it was like to be lying under the dead and dying on the floor of the Bataclan,” said a young woman. “I wonder if he will be able to return my gaze.

A man who was injured by shrapnel at the Comptoir Voltaire bar wants to tell him how Abdeslam’s brother, Brahim, died in his suicide jacket, killing only himself.

Such confrontations are unlikely to take place. Court etiquette requires that all comments be directed to the president of the tribunal, Jean-Louis Périès. There can be no direct exchanges between the other parties present.

It might as well be.


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