WORLD NEWS

Paris terror trial opens for 20 accused in 2015 attacks

Sep 8, 2021, 8:46 AM | Updated: 2:20 pm
French Gendarmerie stand guard by the main gates of the Palais de Justice, where the trial of the 2...
French Gendarmerie stand guard by the main gates of the Palais de Justice, where the trial of the 2015 terror attack in Paris will take place from tomorrow, September 7, 2021, Paris, France. In November 2015, three teams of jihadists launched a suicide-bombing and gun assault on bars, restaurants and the Bataclan concert hall, killing 130. Tomorrow is the first day of what is scheduled to be a nine-month trial over these attacks, with 14 of 20 defendants present, including the sole surviving attacker. The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attacks, which were allegedly planned from Syria. (Photo by Siegfried Modola/Getty Images)
(Photo by Siegfried Modola/Getty Images)

PARIS (AP) — The trial of 20 men accused in the Islamic State group’s coordinated attacks on Paris in 2015 that transformed France opened Wednesday in a custom-built complex embedded within a 13th-century courthouse.

Nine gunmen and suicide bombers struck within minutes of each other at several locations around Paris on Nov. 13, 2015, leaving 130 people dead and spreading fear across the nation. It was the deadliest violence to strike France since World War II and one of the worst terror attacks to hit the West.

The worst carnage was at the Bataclan concert hall, where three men with assault rifles gunned down scores of people and grabbed a handful of hostages. Other attackers targeted the national soccer stadium, where the president was attending a game, and as well as cafes filled with people on a mild autumn night.

The lone surviving attacker from that night, Salah Abdeslam, is the key defendant — but he has so far refused to speak to investigators, denying them answers to many of the remaining questions about the attacks and the people who planned them. Abdeslam, whose brother was among the suicide bombers, appeared wearing a black short-sleeved shirt and black trousers, his long hair tied back.

When asked to state his profession, he declared he was “a fighter for Islamic State” after intoning a prayer.

Abdeslam, who fled the night if the attacks after ditching his car and a malfunctioning suicide vest, is the only defendant charged with murder. The other defendants present face lesser terrorism charges.

The presiding judge, Jean-Louis Peries, acknowledged the extraordinary nature of the attacks, which changed security in Europe and France’s political landscape, and the trial to come. France only emerged from the state of emergency declared in the wake of the attacks in 2017, after incorporating many of the harshest measures into law.

“The events that we are about to decide are inscribed in their historic intensity as among the international and national events of this century,” he said.

Dominique Kielemoes, whose son bled to death at one of the cafes, said the month dedicated to victims’ testimonies at the trial will be crucial to both their own healing and that of the nation.

“The assassins, these terrorists, thought they were firing into the crowd, into a mass of people. But it wasn’t a mass — these were individuals who had a life, who loved, had hopes and expectations, and that we need to talk about at the trial. It’s important,” she said.

Of the 20 men charged, six will be tried in absentia. Abdeslam will be questioned multiple times — but it remains to be seen if he will break his silence.

The same IS network went on to strike Brussels months after the Paris attacks, killing another 32 people.

Authorities have to extraordinary lengths to ensure security at the trial, building an entirely new courtroom within the storied 13th-century Palais de Justice in Paris, where Marie Antoinette and Emile Zola faced trial, among others.

Survivors of the attacks as well as those who mourn their dead on Wednesday packed the complex’s rooms, which were designed to hold 1,800 plaintiffs and over 300 lawyers.

For the first time, victims can also have a secure audio link to listen from home if they want with a 30-minute delay.

The trial is scheduled to last nine months. The month of September will be dedicated to laying out the police and forensic evidence. October will be given over to victims’ testimony. From November to December, officials including then-French President François Hollande — who was at the Stade de France on the night of the assaults — will testify, as will relatives of the attackers.

France changed after that night: Authorities immediately declared a state of emergency and now has armed officers constantly patrolling public spaces. And it transformed forever the lives of all those who suffered losses or bore witness to the violence that night.

“Our ability to be carefree is gone,” Kielemoes said. “The desire to go out, travel — all of that’s gone. Even if we still do a number of things, our appetite for life has disappeared.”

For Jean-Luc Wertenschlag, who lives above the cafe where her son died and who rushed downstairs soon after the first gunshots to try and save lives, it has even changed the way he moves around the city where he was born and raised. He never leaves home without the first aid gear he lacked that night, when he ripped off his shirt to stanch the bleeding of a victim.

“What we did that evening with other people, to provide assistance to the people wounded during the attack, was a way to stand against what these monsters had tried to do to us,” he said.

Among those scheduled to testify is Hollande, who in addition to being present at one of the scenes of attack gave the final order to police special forces to storm the Bataclan.

Hollande said Wednesday he would speak “not for the sake of French politics, but for the victims of the attacks.” He said he keenly felt the weight of responsibility that night and for the days and weeks later in the aftermath of the attack.

“When the cameras are turned off, you go back to the solitude of the Elysée (presidential palace),” Hollande told told France-Info. “You ask what can I do? … Is what just happened going to change society?”

None of the proceedings will be televised or rebroadcast to the public, but they will be recorded for archival purposes. Video recording has only been allowed for a handful of cases in France considered to be of historical value, including last year’s trial for the 2015 attacks against the Charlie Hebdo newspaper in Paris and a kosher supermarket.

___

Angela Charlton contributed to this report.

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

World News

An Egyptian archeologist speaks at a recently discovered tomb dated to the Old Kingdom, 2700–2200...
MOHAMED WAGDY

Egypt unveils tombs and sarcophagus in new excavation

Egypt on Thursday unveiled dozens of new archaeological discoveries, including two ancient tombs, at a Pharaonic necropolis just outside of the capital Cairo.
18 hours ago
A Yanomami youth carries a toddler on his shoulders at the Saude Indigenous House, a center respons...
Eleoneore Hughes and Edmar Barros, Associated Press

Why Brazil’s Yanomami are being decimated by disease, mining

Severe malnutrition and disease, particularly malaria, are decimating the Yanomami population in Brazil's Amazon rainforest, and on Jan. 20 the federal government declared a public health emergency.
18 hours ago
Filippo Grandi, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, tours a neighborhood in Kharkiv ...
Hanna Arhirova, Associated Press

Russian attacks on Ukraine reported; tank training to start

Ukrainian officials say Russia has launched a new wave of missile and self-exploding drone attacks on the country.
2 days ago
woman leans off skyscraper for video content...
Larry D. Curtis

Sundance: ‘Fantastic Machine’ entertains while examining relationship between humans and camera

While the Utah's political leaders grapple with laws to combat the dangers of social media, Utah's Sundance Film Festival premiered "Fantastic Machine," turning the camera lens not only the camera but what it has meant to humans — spoiler: it has drastically changed us.
3 days ago
U.S. M1/A1 Abrams tanks...
TARA COPP and LOLITA BALDOR Associated Press

Why the US flipped on sending tanks to Ukraine

For months, U.S. officials balked at sending M1 Abrams tanks to Ukraine, insisting they were too complicated and too hard to maintain and repair.
3 days ago
This diagram made available by NASA shows the estimated trajectory of asteroid 2023 BU, in red, aff...
Marcia Dunn, AP Aerospace Writer

Asteroid coming exceedingly close to Earth, but will miss

An asteroid the size of a delivery truck will whip past Earth on Thursday night, one of the closest encounters ever recorded.
3 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Fiber Optical cables connected to an optic ports and Network cables connected to ethernet ports...
Brian Huston, CE and Anthony Perkins, BICSI

Why Every Business Needs a Structured Cabling System

A structured cabling system benefits businesses by giving you faster processing speeds and making your network more efficient and reliable.
notebook with password notes highlighted...
PC Laptops

How to Create Strong Passwords You Can Actually Remember

Learn how you can create strong passwords that are actually easy to remember! In a short time you can create new ones in seconds.
house with for rent sign posted...
Chase Harrington, president and COO of Entrata

Top 5 Reasons You May Want to Consider Apartment Life Over Owning a Home

There are many benefits of renting that can be overshadowed by the allure of buying a home. Here are five reasons why renting might be right for you.
Festive kitchen in Christmas decorations. Christmas dining room....
Lighting Design

6 Holiday Decor Trends to Try in 2022

We've rounded out the top 6 holiday decor trends for 2022 so you can be ahead of the game before you start shopping. 
Happy diverse college or university students are having fun on their graduation day...
BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

How to Choose What MBA Program is Right for You: Take this Quiz Before You Apply!

Wondering what MBA program is right for you? Take this quiz before you apply to see if it will help you meet your goals.
Diverse Group of Energetic Professionals Team Meeting in Modern Office: Brainstorming IT Programmer...
Les Olson

Don’t Let a Ransomware Attack Get You Down | Protect Your Workplace Today with Cyber Insurance

Business owners and operators should be on guard to protect their workplace. Cyber insurance can protect you from online attacks.
Paris terror trial opens for 20 accused in 2015 attacks