The lawyer advances with a mixture of excitement and stage fright towards the witness box where, finally, the short moment granted to him has arrived. He lays down his sheets, installs in the courtroom his voice which he knows is so characteristic and, this time, can begin to plead. At the moment of starting, he and his black robe look straight ahead, addressing, as the ritual formula dictates, “Ladies and Gentlemen of the Court” but he will no longer hesitate, in a few minutes, to turn resolutely towards the box of the accused to be ironic or indignant at the words of such and such, Salah Abdeslam in the first rank of all.
The lawyer wants to evoke the victims of mourning, injuries or shock from the attacks in Saint-Denis, the Bataclan or the terraces in Paris. In a neat elocution, he also wants to deliver a few sentences on his own emotions, moods or indignation about the way he went through this river trial. For this, he has provided quotes that he knows to be powerful, since they are signed by Albert Camus, Jacques Lacan, Jean-Paul Sartre, Romain Gary or Serge Reggiani. Arrived in the middle of his speech, the lawyer suddenly speaks more slowly. He measures the perfect silence of the room: he knows that his presentation and his reflections have undoubtedly hit the mark. There is no doubt: he will remain as one of those who will have marked with their presence the beginning of the pleadings of the civil parties of the great trial of the attacks of November 13th.
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This Monday, May 23, before the specially composed Assize Court of Paris, Mare Sylvie Topaloff, Jean Reinhart, Samia Maktouf, Gérard Chemla, Didier Seban and several others form a unique character, universal figure of the lawyer for the civil parties, who came to speak on behalf of victims and – difficult task here – to be the spokesperson words of men and women who have taken the stand before him to express remarks that are often notably powerful. This is the main challenge.
Tribute every day to the victims
Due to the very large number of lawyers (370), due to the number of victims (2,400) caught up in the enormity of the massacres, the civil parties organized themselves under the aegis of Mr.are Helena Christidis and Frederic Bibal. As advertised Me Frédérique Giffard at the start of the hearing, only a part (150) of the black dresses will plead and each day of the hearing will begin with a tribute to the victims. A group of lawyers will indeed come daily to evoke the names and journeys of those who have fallen. Each pleading, then, will have to follow a theme established according to a plan: “The victims facing the accused”, “The deceased victims”, “The victims and the places of attacks”…
At the November 13 trial: “Coming to the bar is also facing history”
Sylvie Topaloff is the first to plead. The question that comes back to him in the program is: “What happened to us? » She responds, giving the measure of the extent of the incongruities imposed by the reality of the trial:
“Those who are judged here are neither madmen, nor marginals, nor monsters, nor poor manipulated characters, nor even men with chaotic journeys. No life accidents, loving parents, no underprivileged region. »
Mohamed Abrini had admitted at the hearing that he “lack of nothing”. Salah Abdeslam boasted of his “simple and happy childhood”. Me Topaloff wonders how “all taboos have fallen” among these young people when the video of Abdelhamid Abaaoud dragging corpses with his pick-up seemed to seduce them to the point that “his face becomes a model”. “It’s as if the Nazis had displayed the death camps”she is indignant, terrified that the jihadists are coming “politicize their cause”, “seeing only their brothers, the others being only disbelievers, a sample of a negligible humanity”. “Their world is closed in a system”she complains.
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Jean Reinhart, then, under the question “Does evil bring us together?” “, almost replays the “clack” of machine guns and the “dring” of telephones to signify the moment of change that was the attacks “which mark the end of a moment when all was well”. He knew that “terrorists only want one thing: that we lose our bearings, that calm is shattered”. He thought the trial would move forward. Alas, each evening of each audience, it took “set out again and hold on so as not to sink”.
“The hardest thing is to mourn oneself”: survivor’s guilt among Bataclan survivors
Samia Maktouf, in turn, insists on the framework of the trial, “Justice, in the name of the French people” but above all a major theme, too little mentioned in his eyes during the hearing: “The Islamist indoctrination which led to the terrorist act”. Denouncing the acceptance of pro-Salafist books in French prisons, she similarly attacks reports according to her “inept” radicalization assessment units, yet central structures put in place by the prison administration to deal with radical or terrorist prisoners. She quotes Salah Abdeslam: “We cling to Sharia like you to democracy”the main defendant said in February.
“They are human”
Did the defendants play with the Court? If the trial made it possible to advance on the understanding of the jihadist phenomenon, was it really possible to advance on that of the personality of the men tried here? Lawyer Gérard Chemla, who now pleads, is really not convinced. “None have truly split the armor”he analyzes then, turning to the box:
“Gentlemen, I think you are only thinking of yourself. They remained united with each other. Their only regrets are for what they did […] I know they are human […] But I didn’t feel they lived up to their case. »
Didier Seban agrees with this, denouncing “the false pretext of the coalition” bombarding Syria to come to justify the terrorist acts and evoking the penalties incurred by the defendants, from life imprisonment, to twenty years or six years in prison. According to him, “The criminal association persisted in the box. None [des accusés] did not want to question his co-defendants, even dead ones. It was not necessary to reveal the secrets that justice had not succeeded in revealing”.
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“I no longer dream”: the cries from the heart of the civil parties in the trial of the attacks of November 13
We will hear on this register again Olivier Morice. The lawyer lists the “multiple flaws”of the ” chess “of the “boats taking on water” described in these terms by the veterans of French anti-terrorism, whether Patrick Calvar, former head of the DGSI, prosecutor François Molins or judge Marc Trévidic. The lawyer’s regret is tinged with a bitterness that weighed on many days of the trial: “The duty of security rests with the State. It is one of the very foundations of our social pact.…
The lawyers Hervé Begeot, Stephen Monod, Méhana Mouhou, Catherine Szwarc and Hervé Gerbi come in turn to discuss the suffering and the questions. It will be impossible to detail all the speeches of the coming weeks. Each fragment of the pleading sheds light on the questions, frustrations and shocks experienced during this trial. The program plans to discuss a thousand more fundamental subjects: “The attacks suffered by the victims”, “Their journeys”, “Post-traumatic stress”, etc.
music as a weapon
This Monday, the last theme appearing on the program of pleadings of the civil parties is intriguing. Me Aude Rimailho must evoke: “Music as an instrument of terror”. The lawyer, in an unusual pleading, does so with a smile: from the Bataclan, targeted as a place of celebration, she underlines “the power of music in human emotions”. From the Islamic State organization, which had banned music, she recalls that the Salafists considered it ” a grip “. And, in what will remain as a moment of intense trouble in this trial, she recalls the broadcast by the Court several months ago of the refrains listened to or broadcast by the fighters of the Islamic State group: “Advance, advance”, the song of claim of the attacks in the video broadcast after them is particularly heady. “They made music a weapon of combat”, she squeaks. His argument is not a vain analysis of musicology. It tells all those, lovers of songs of sweet peace or devilish rock, who, frozen by November 13, can no longer go to a concert.