Thomas Coex/AFP via Getty Images
On Wednesday, 20 men accused of plan and carry out the biggest attacks in peacetime on French soil goes away on process in Paris.
Almost six years ago 10 attackers killed 130 people and hundreds injured more in coordinated shootings and suicide bombings in concert hall Bataclan, a sports stadium and bars and restaurants in the French capital. The ISIS attacks took place on an unusually sultry Friday evening in November in 2015, when patio tables were still full.
As of this week, almost 1,800 witnesses and victims of these attacks will testify in a process expected last nine months, one that will include more than 300 lawyers, hundreds of volumes of documents and unprecedented security. There will also are thousands of spectators.
AN special courtroom built for the trial involves a high-security witness box for the only survivor among the militants who to behave out the attacks. Salah Abdeslam, a French citizen who lived in Belgium and is currently put in prison in France, will be joined accused by 13 others of help to plan and deliver logistics and weapons on November 13, 2015. He is faced with cost of murder linked to a terrorist enterprise.
Thomas Coex/AFP via Getty Images
Six others – ISIS members, most of die are now believed by French intelligence? dead in Syria — will be judged in absence.
It will be one of the rare French trials die be filmed, although footage won’t be made public until over 50 years.
“It’s huge and historic. After almost six year of research, this will be a test for history” says retired judge Jean-Louis Bruguière, who used to head The French Counter-Terrorism Investigation Unit.
Media coverage dumping France in back in memories of the attacks as the trial approaches. A radio documentary die was broadcast last week on public broadcaster France Info played the chilling calls to first commenters of die evening for the first time. As the calls poured in in by over the city, Nicolas Poirot, then? head of the city’s ambulance, said she had a… hard time makes sense of them.
“Then we looked at a map and realized it’s a coordinated, huge attack”, he recalled in the documentary.
Stephane Lacombe, who worked for advocacy of victims group at the time, says this test is extremely important.
“The victims need to feel that a democratic state does not support them alone,” he said says, “but also that it is using all are skills, resources, time, money, judges, to do what it can in to get answers.”
lacombe says in unlike the attacks die took place 10 months earlier in Paris, targeting the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo and a kosher supermarket, the attacks in November 2015 were more widely distributed.
“People said to me, ‘My God, it’s… on cafes and in the street and against young people – to be against everybody.’ So I think there is one real change in our country in the perception of terrorism on die day. Since then onEveryone felt vulnerable says lacombe.
Bruguiere says the attacks were planned in Syria and exported out by Europeans who had joined ISIS and were able to travel back and again unnoticed with the current of migrants. The attackers were mainly French and Belgian burgersborn in Europe to immigrants from North Africa.
Such planned, coordinated attacks would be extremely difficult to carry out out in France of Belgium today, he says.
“Unfortunately they have not been detected in time,” he says. “But the French and Belgian intelligence services have been greatly strengthened since then. This kind of attacks are now thwarted because we can pick up their communication.”
New Anti-Terrorism Legislation in France gives police extended powers to search homes and make house arrests without prior judicial authorization. Religious Sites die considered radical can be closed down. Such measures have drawn a protest from civil rights advocates.
The worst massacre of die night of November 2015 then came three of the gunmen besieged the Bataclan concert hall, killing 90 people and injure hundreds more. Alexis Lebrun was in the Bataclan audience at a rock concert die evening. He hopes the process will yield some answers and closure. But he says he is afraid of it.
“It’s a scary moment”, says Lebrun, “because I got through the attacks in have gone to paris” again for the next nine months, it is just too many.”
Lebrun is a spokesperson for Life for Paris, an association of victims die was established after the attacks. He considers himself lucky because he was not physically injured. He says he is largely in been able to pick up his life again – although he had to change jobs because of the fear die he felt to take could not bear public transport in the rush hour.
“You just can not escape the fact that you will never be the same person again,” he says. “It changes you forever. So you just have to accept that and deal with the consequences.”
The process, says Lebrun, won’t change that.
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