The trial of the 2015 attacks begins six years after the Night of Terror in Paris

The trial began Wednesday in the case of the jihadist attacks on November 13, 2015, the most violent attacks in France since the Second World War, in the presence of Salah Abdeslam, the only survivor among the members of the jihadist groups that carried out the attacks.

The French-Moroccan accused sat Wednesday at around 12:45 (10:45 GMT) in the dock surrounded by a number of police officers, a few minutes before the start of this exceptional trial, according to AFP correspondents.

At the opening of the session, the only survivor said in response to the request to reveal his identity, “Above all, I want to testify that there is no god but God and that Muhammad is the Messenger of God.”

Then he was asked about his profession and he replied, “I gave up any profession to become a fighter in the ranks of the Islamic State.”

On Wednesday, the French judiciary began a nine-month process to prosecute the perpetrators of the jihadist attacks on November 13, 2015, when "suicide bombers" attacked the Stade de France stadium and gunmen opened fire on the balconies of cafes and the Bataclan concert hall, killing 130 people and wounding 350 others. Paris and Saint-Denis in the suburbs of the French capital.

This exceptional trial, the largest trial of a criminal case organized in France, began in the historic Palace of Justice in Paris amid tight security against the backdrop of a high terrorist threat.

At the opening of the session, the President of the Special Criminal Court, Jean-Louis Pereys, said, "Today we are starting a trial that was described as historic and exceptional," stressing that "what matters is also respect for standards and respect for everyone's rights, starting with the right to self-defense."
The trial of twenty defendants, including French-Moroccan Salah Abdeslam, will continue until May 24 or 25.

Ten other men sat next to him in the dock as they stand trial for taking part in the attacks, which took place at a time when Paris was still traumatized by the January attacks on the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo and a kosher supermarket.

Three accused will be at liberty under judicial supervision, while six others will be tried in absentia.

Twelve of the 20 defendants face life imprisonment.

In addition to the large size of the file, this trial is unprecedented in the criminal field, in terms of its duration and the number of parties claiming a civil right of 1,800.

Former Paris prosecutor Francois Molins told RTL radio that this trial would allow "everyone, especially the families of the victims, to realize what happened," he said.

Molin also said that he expects this trial to "participate in building a collective memory," stressing the need to "build this collective memory by re-emphasizing the values ​​of humanity and the dignity of the society in which we live."

One of the first poignant moments will be on September 28, when some 300 relatives and survivors begin to testify.

Over the course of five weeks, they will take turns in court to talk about the details of that night of terror, the scars it left and personal tragedies mixed with collective fear.

It was 21:16 on Friday, November 13, 2015, when France sank in terror as a suicide bomber blew himself up near the Stade de France stadium during a friendly match between France and Germany.

Two kilometers away in the heart of Paris, an armed group of three men opened fire with automatic weapons on the balconies of cafes, while a third group of three men also opened fire on the audience inside the Bataclan theater during a concert.

Shortly after midnight, police stormed the Bataclan theater, two attackers escaped and a five-day manhunt began. Ultimately, Abdelhamid Abaaoud, a French-speaking jihadist at the top of France's most-wanted list, and an accomplice were killed on November 18 during a police attack on a building in Saint-Denis where they were hiding.
While France mourned its dead, closed its borders and declared a state of emergency, a wide-ranging investigation began, in close cooperation with the Belgian judiciary.

Four years of investigations made it possible to determine the bulk of the logistical aspect of the attacks, and the route taken by the group’s members through Europe since their return from Syria, following the migrants’ routes, to their hideouts in rented apartments in Belgium and near Paris.

The investigation revealed a larger jihadist cell behind the attacks, the same as the attacks on the airport and metro trains in Brussels, which killed 32 people on March 22, 2016.

In the absence of Osama al-Attar, one of the “emirs” of the Islamic State who is suspected of planning the attacks from Syria, and other senior leaders of the organization, including the Fabian brothers and Jean-Michel Klein, who are believed to have been killed and are being tried in absentia, attention will turn to Salah Abd al-Salam and Muhammad Abrini. The man in the hat" who stopped blowing himself up at Brussels Airport.

Will the court, which will not question them before 2022, succeed in dispelling the last remaining points of ambiguity, starting with the role actually played by Salah Abdeslam, 31?

The court will summon about 100 witnesses, including many French and Belgian investigators, and former French President Francois Hollande.

This will be the second trial in a terrorism case to be fully filmed for inclusion in the judiciary's audiovisual archive, after the trial in the attacks on Charlie Hebdo and the Jewish store.

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