“We lived an act of war”: before the trial of the Nice attack, the heartbreaking testimony of Cindy, who lost six members of her family

We, the families of the victims, hope to bring them back to life through this national tribute. Nice, October 15, 2016. Cindy Pellegrini, 34, has the difficult task of reading the letter written by the bereaved relatives. Three months earlier, the attack on the Prom’ killed 86 people. Six of them belonged to his family. His mother, Véronique Lyon. His brother, Michaël Pellegrini. His grandparents, Christiane and François Locatelli. And his mother’s in-laws, Gisèle and Germain Lyon. It is for them that Cindy Pellegrini will come from Lorraine to testify, during the trial which opens in Paris on Monday. She is vice-president of the association Memorial des Anges, chaired Promenade des Anges. She will come to tell her personal drama, emblematic of the July 14 attack. How are you feeling as the trial approaches? It is a moment that I greatly dread. We will inevitably talk about it again in the media, hear things that will rekindle pain… We have to go through that. But I know it’s going to be very difficult to live with. For six years, I’ve been on a roller coaster. This is why I hesitated for a long time to testify. What do you expect from this trial? I expect the defendants to take the legally permitted maximum. The goal is for the qualification of terrorism to be retained. Its very important. We want justice to be done. Even though we know it won’t bring them back. Will it be difficult to dissociate the anti-terrorist investigation from that relating to the security of the Prom’? I make a good distinction between the two. For me, the attack resulted from two things: the lack of security that evening, undeniable, and the intention of a terrorist attack. One does not go without the other. The victims absolutely do not want the responsibility of the City of Nice or the State to be obscured. For me, there must be two trials. What do you expect from the defendants? I hope they will become aware of the harm they have done around them. That’s why we’re going to testify. I want to tell them they destroyed an entire family, tell them who they were. Are you dreading coming to testify? I dread it, yes. I see it as a tribute to the deceased, to my loved ones, to my family. I want to make the judges aware that what we experienced was an act of war. Losing six family members happens in countries at war. And we, we experienced it in France, on a national holiday evening! Can this step help your reconstruction? It’s not going to help me rebuild myself. I know that will never happen. We know we will always have to live with it. This trial allows to maintain the memory of this drama? Being far from Nice, sometimes it makes me sad to see that we talk about it much less than at home. We tell ourselves that people have moved on, whereas we will always live with this tragedy. I was not there that evening. At first, I didn’t really see what I could bring to the trial. In fact, I realized that we had to tell our drama to demonstrate the extent of this tragedy. Make judges aware of the devastating effects on the lives of those who have died, but also those who remain. Do you also do this through victims’ associations? Yes, I am still vice-president of the Memorial of the Angels, a memorial which will unfortunately be installed in Paris. We are very disappointed that it is not in Nice, where the idea emerged. We weren’t that supported by the City. We are still moved that this project succeeds, and proud to have been able to do something for our loved ones. Can the post-trial leave a void? I apprehend the verdict. I wouldn’t want us to go back. After V13 [le procès des attentats du 13-Novembre, ndlr], I was disgusted that so-called victims said they were relieved that little hands were reunited with their families that evening. I hope I will not hear this kind of reaction, and that there will be no acquittal! Because that night, they took my life, too.