EMMANUEL DUNAND / AFP
From this Monday, September 5, the trial of the attack of July 14, 2016 in Nice is held before the Special Court of Assizes of Paris. An organization far from the Alpes-Maritimes which constitutes a real challenge (archive photo taken on June 29 during the trial of November 13).
JUSTICE – ” The fact that it takes place in Paris, we suffer from it every day. Six years after the tragedy, the trial of the Nice attack begins this Monday, September 5 with the aim of returning to the murderous crossing of the Promenade des Anglais, on July 14, 2016, of the truck driven by Mohamed Lahouaiej-Bouhlel. A legal event which follows another giant trial, that of the attacks of November 13, 2015, and which takes place in the same place: on the Ile de la Cité, in the heart of the capital, as you can see in the video below.
Except that this relocation involves difficulties for the participants. Lawyer Olivia Chalus-Pénochet, on the initiative of a group of lawyers called “14-07″ which pools the resources of her corporation to best represent the victims, explains: ” It is an immense effort that we are obliged to make, and it is only thanks to the fact of having grouped together that we will be able to accompany our customers until the end. »
The lawyer specializing in the rights of victims of bodily injury has indeed encouraged the black robes of the bars of Nice and Grasse to organize themselves to carry the voice of the civil parties. Starting by helping those concerned to testify despite the distance. Because with 86 victims, more than 400 injured and 30,000 people present on the Promenade des Anglais on the day of the tragedy, there are many who can contribute to the legal process and make the trial a memorable moment.
Psychological injuries and logistical constraints
” For the victims, it is always difficult to attend this kind of trial and there it adds a lot of constraints. There is a terrible emotional charge… “, resumes Olivia Chalus-Pénochet. Torn by feelings of shame and guilt », overwhelmed by the « psychological injury to be told for six years that we is not legitimate ” Where ” we should turn the page “, the lawyer thus describes victims still exhausted, traumatized by July 14, and who fear being plunged back into this story. ” We face withdrawn people, couples who explode, friends who no longer speak to each other… »
And to give the example of one of his clients, an elderly lady who had never been to Paris in her life. ” She was very reluctant to go to trial. We had to convince her and she will have to be accompanied on the spot. »
As for this lady, the course of a trial which should last for two and a half months 1000 km from Nice thus represents a considerable difficulty for the victims. ” It was families from a very popular background who were hit by this attack.recalls the lawyer. And there are scholarships for which it is not possible to advance fees. In addition, we still do not have the final schedule. So many gave up… »
Because if it is planned that the victims wishing to testify will be paid to go to Paris, whether for transport, accommodation or catering, all are not able to advance these sums. And the relative compensation for lost wages also put in place is often not enough. Above all, specifies Olivia Chalus-Pénochet, even for those who will move, it will only be temporary. ” Most will only be there on the day of their deposition. And if a few rare people will come for several days, for reasons of means, childcare, work, they will not be able to stay long. »
An exceptional organization to follow the trial remotely
To overcome this logistical difficulty, several adjustments have therefore been decided, thanks in particular to the involvement and very strong support from the president of Nice. To begin with, the town hall made available to the Ministry of Justice “ the Mediterranean area – Acropolis “, a convention center, so that a retransmission can take place on the spot for the civil parties.
The, ” the town hall has agreed to hire two student lawyers in PPI (Individual Pedagogical Project, i.e. a long internship that does not take place in a practice, editor’s note) who will support the victims alongside the associations », specifies Olivia Chalus-Pénochet. Young people ” trained “, will be ” present from morning to evening and available to the civil parties to answer their questions, whether from a practical point of view, on the reimbursement of expenses or where to obtain a badge, as well as for substantive questions on the course of the trial “.
Faced with an attack that caused victims of 19 nationalities, due to the massive presence of tourists on the “Prom'” for the July 14 fireworks, a web radio will also be set up. At the time of the trial of the Parisian attacks, for fear of foreign interceptions and illegal recordings, the judicial authority had not authorized such a device, but this time it will be accessible anywhere in the world, whether in overseas territories and abroad.
Mutualization and preparation
Now charge lawyers to go beyond the constraint of distance. ” We have doubts about what to bring or not, photocopies to make before the hearings “, Details Olivia Chalus-Pénochet, who also evokes the stewardship linked to the fact of leaving for three months a cabinet in which she usually works twelve hours a day. But after the example of November 13 and the work ” admirable of her colleagues that she was able to observe, she did not ” hesitated for a second to organize the same, with great modesty “.
With a lot of ” patience and time to convince colleagues accustomed to working alone », this is how the group « 14-07 » was therefore formed at the local level. ” HASoday, we have been joined by colleagues from Paris, Marseille, Aix-en-Provence, Cayenne, Lille, Reims, Bordeaux… And all the major firms that were involved in 13-Novembre have naturally joined us. »
Specialists from different fields, who share skills and experience and mutualize the preparation of the trial. ” Sub-groups work on childhood, on the specificity of this attack, on the victims. There are also criminal lawyers who work on the offenses and the personality of the accused…”
If the pleadings are not yet constructed, an outline takes shape and the ” main themes are already posed “. And thanks to the lessons of November 13, the lawyers continue until the last minute to adjust with the registry, the president. ” We try to debug, to make everything flow smoothly. “Because the stakes are high: that the trial takes place as well as possible and that its holding in Paris remains only an incident in the collective memory.
See also on the HuffPost: The minute of silence on the Promenade des Anglais filmed by a drone