The debates ended last week and the trial of the attacks of November 13, 2015 entered a new phase, Monday, May 23: place for the pleadings of the lawyers of the victims and relatives of victims. But not everyone will speak. With nearly 2,400 civil parties constituted, represented by more than 330 black dresses, it would take several weeks to hear everyone and the timing of the trial, already extended by several weeks, does not allow it. “We are therefore going to present something else to you, another form of pleading, unprecedented, in which around a hundred lawyers participated”first explained Me Frédérique Giffard.
For five days, 90 counsel will plead for the “community” of civil parties, “crossed by the same divisions, the same fault lines as society in general”continued the lawyer, in a calm tone. Everyone has 20 to 25 minutes maximum to express themselves on major themes: “radicalization and delinquency” then “music as an instrument of terror” on Monday, “the Stade de France”, the terraces” and “the Bataclan” on Tuesday, or even “post-traumatic stress”, “resilience”, and “survivor’s guilt” on Wednesday.
Every day, before the pleadings, a few minutes will be devoted to certain deceased victims, “at the request of their bereaved families”, said Frédérique Giffard. Several lawyers followed one another on Monday to talk about the stories of Thibault, 36, whose photo, bathed in light, was projected in the room. They also talked about Estelle, 25, from Concarneau (Finistère), “who was just beginning her career as an English teacher”. Or Matthieu, 32, a record store enthusiast Star Wars, in remission from cancer when he was killed at the Bataclan.
A way to distinguish victims in grouped pleadings, who will represent “extremely varied points of view”, warned Me Frédérique Giffard. It was her colleague, Me Sylvie Topaloff, who got the ball rolling, under the eyes of her husband, the philosopher Alain Finkielkraut. “To drop a bomb in the crowd, and even, I dare say it, planes on towers, is another thing than killing 130 times at point-blank range”she said, glasses in hand, somewhat nervous.
“If we have learned one thing during these nine months of hearings, it is that those who are in the box are neither madmen, nor marginalized, nor monsters, nor poor manipulated people. don’t even have chaotic life paths”she said, quoting Mohamed Abrini, who assured that he had no “lack of nothing”and Salah Abdeslam, who said he had “a simple and happy childhood”. And to wonder, facing the eleven defendants in the box: “What happened to them?”
Me Jean Reinhart, who took the floor next, also tried to answer, “THE question, vertiginous, nagging, which does not leave us: how? How did men, who were once children, kill and participate in killing beings with whom they could have conversed?”he wondered.
In an attempt to understand the origin of evil, he summoned Hannah Arendt and Charles Baudelaire, quoting an extract from the collection of poems The Spleen of Paris (1869): “Never forget (…) that the most beautiful trick of the devil is to persuade you that he does not exist.” The lawyer admits, however, that he has not succeeded in unraveling the mystery. “Nothing, nothing, nada. They gave us evolving stories that were so unbelievable that we could have laughed at them”he launched in a harsh tone.
In its wake, Me Samia Maktouf for her part chose to explore the theme of “Islamist indoctrination” of the accused. “They declare themselves self-proclaimed defenders of oppressed Muslims. They hope to convince the court that they are persecuted, that France prevents them from practicing their religion freely”she taunted in a loud voice.
In a completely different style, in a professorial and calm voice, Mr. Gérard Chemla has meanwhile worked to demonstrate that the defendants are only motivated by their personal interest and have pretended to be interested in the victims. “I did not believe in the sincerity of anyone. The only real regrets is what happens to them”, he launched. And to conclude his argument with these words: “They are defending themselves like weed dealers and I didn’t feel like they were up to this lawsuit.”