In Paris on Wednesday, with the strictest security measures and great media interest, a historic trial began with alleged perpetrators of a series of coordinated attacks on six different locations in Paris on Nov. 13, 2015, which killed 130 people ahd injured hundreds more. In the afternoon, the defendants arrived at the Palace of Justice in the center of the French capital, and shortly after 1:00 p.m. CET, the trial began.
Salah Abdeslam, considered the only survivor of the group of perpetrators, initially identified himself as an Islamic State soldier and later complained loudly about treatment by the French judiciary.
The trial, which French Justice Minister Eric Dupond-Moretti called a judicial marathon, is scheduled to run until the end of May 2022. Twenty people are being indicted, six of whom remain on the run. Most of them are facing life imprisonment. Seven suicide bombers died in the attacks.
The defendants were brought one after the other into the area behind the reinforced security glass on the side of the courtroom, specially adapted to a trial of this significance. The hall was guarded by armed police.
Salah Abdeslam receives the most attention after shouting at a judge
A 31-year-old Frenchman of Moroccan origin, Salah Abdeslam — who has received the most attention — also took a seat on the dock. However, Abdeslam did not appear to be directly involved in the murder. He declared in court that he was a “soldier of the Islamic State”, which is the same terrorist organization that had previously claimed responsibility for the attack and called on its supporters to attack France for its involvement in the fight against IS in Iraq and Syria.
“There is no god but Allah,” Abdeslam said.
The accused later shouted at the judge that he and the other defendants were “treated like dogs”.
“I have been treated like a dog for the last six years, but I have never complained because I know that I will be resurrected later and you will be held accountable,” Abdeslam continued before the presiding judge demanded order and told the defendant that he was “not in front of the ecclesiastical, but the democratic court”.
The trial has almost 1,800 participants, reading their names takes the first two days of the trial. The documents for the process have 542 volumes. According to the preliminary program, the court will have at least 140 hearing days. The judgment is currently scheduled to be read on May 25, 2022.
Most of the defendants in the trial, which takes place in a specially built large-capacity hall with 550 seats in the Palace of Justice, are people who aided the terrorist, for example, by providing weapons, but did not directly participate in the attacks. Only Abdeslam, who according to the investigation brought, among other things, the assassins to the crime scene, is considered a direct actor.
“The whole world is looking at us,” says French justice minister
All persons heading for the Palace of Justice were subjected to a thorough inspection by the security forces. Nearly a thousand law enforcement officers were mobilized to secure the trial, 630 of whom were stationed around the Palace of Justice and inside the building, the AFP agency said, referring to the Interior Ministry.
“The whole world is looking at us,” Justice Minister Dupond-Moretti told the media.
“The terrorist threat in France is high, especially in times such as the trial of the attackers,” Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin said. “I called on all prefects to be cautious.”
Abdeslam, the son of Moroccan immigrants, is due to speak for the first time in court on January 13 next year, but it is uncertain whether he will be willing to testify. The first of the defendants to speak is the Belgian Mohamed Abrini, who, in addition to the assassinations in Paris, is also associated with the bombings in Brussels in March 2016, which claimed 32 lives. The defense will come to the fore on May 6.
The anticipated date in the trial is also September 28, when people who survived the attacks and the survivors of the victims will start to testify. Among them will be former French President François Hollande, who was at a football match at the stadium in Saint-Denis, where the first attack took place. This was followed by attacks on Parisian bars and restaurants and the assassination of the Bataclan concert hall.
Title image: In this Nov. 13, 2016 file photo, women hug in front of the Bataclan concert hall in Paris, as France marked the anniversary of Islamic extremists’ coordinated attacks on Paris with a somber silence that was broken only by voices reciting the names of the 130 slain. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus, File)