Historic Trial Over 2015 Paris Terror Attacks Begins
An historic trial of 20 suspects charged over the November 2015 Paris terror attacks has started in France.
The evening of November 13, 2015, saw a series of coordinated terrorist attacks take place across the French capital.
The shooting and bombing incidents took place in Paris’ northern suburb Saint-Denis, beginning with three suicide bombers striking the outside of the Stade de France, while another group of terrorists opened fire on crowded cafes and restaurants. The incident ended in a hostage situation as a third group carried out a mass shooting at a concert in the Bataclan theatre. The police ended up in a stand-off with the attackers, who were all either shot or who blew themselves up when the police raided the theatre.
The attacks were carried out by Islamist State (IS) group extremists and the only surviving attacker, Salah Abdeslam, is now in court with 13 other defendants. They are being held at a purpose-built facility in Paris.
The trial will see 140 days of hearings involving around 330 lawyers and 1,800 survivors and relatives of victims. It will span the next nine months and is described as the biggest in France’s modern history.
François Hollande, French president at the time of the attacks, will be one of the 300 witnesses heard at the trial.
Hollande told French media ahead of the trial that the attacks were an ‘act of war’, BBC News reports.
IS admitted carrying out all of the attacks at the Bataclan concert hall, Stade de France stadium and multiple restaurants and bars.
This morning, September 8, the defendants arrived at court in police vehicles under heavy security. They had face masks on as that sat together in the defendants’ box before the trial opened.
According to reports, Abdeslam came in last out of all of the defendants. When asked to state his profession to the presiding judge, he answered that he was a ‘soldier of IS’. The 31-year-old is accused of giving logistical support to the attackers, and reportedly fled the scene of the incident, having abandoned his suicide belt. His belt was later found by investigators to have been defective. Becoming Europe’s most wanted-man, he was captured four months later in Brussels after a shootout with police.
Half of the main island in central Paris, Île de la Cité, has been sealed off by security forces for the trial. Police officers, lawyers, journalists, survivors, relatives of victims and psychological support staff are all in attendance.
Philippe Duperron, the father of Thomas Duperron, who was one of the victims in the Bataclan attack, told BBC News there were ‘mixed feelings’ about the trial.
It will be the occasion for all the victims to bear witness, so it will be a very painful moment, and bring back the pain again.
Six out of the 20 suspects are being tried without being present at the trials and face charges of murder, complicity and terrorist conspiracy. Most of the suspects are facing a life sentence in jail if they are convicted.
The trial will not be broadcast live, however it will be recorded for archives. Victims are due to give their testimonies towards the end of September, after the first, mostly procedural days of the trial.
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