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Trial of the July 14 attack in Nice: “I failed to disarm it” … One of the heroes testifies – 20 Minutes

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At the specially composed Assize Court in Paris, “At the time, I thought of a road accident. I never thought of a terrorist act”. As the truck passed in front of him, Gilles Gamberi thought the driver was unwell. He rushes towards the heavyweight and decides to switch off the ignition to stop the vehicle. But climbing on the step, it is not a fainted man that this former railway worker discovers, but a weapon pointed at him. That of Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel, the driver of the truck which drove into the crowd, killing 86 and injuring more than 400. Jean and white T-shirt, the one who was nicknamed “the other hero of Nice” – with Franck Terrier, “the man with the scooter” -, advances to the bar of the special assize court of Paris, this Wednesday. For several minutes, he recounts in detail how he tried to stop the terrorist on July 14, 2016. “I don’t know what got into me” That evening, Gilles Gamberi stops on the Promenade des Anglais to listen a concert with friends. But a few minutes later, a crash catches his attention. “When I turned around, I saw a white mass, I projected myself onto the roadway,” he says. When he comes to his senses, dozens of bodies are on the ground. He then sets off in pursuit of the truck, climbs near the window and sees the terrorist’s weapon. “There, it was dread. I grabbed the hand, but I couldn’t disarm it, ”he says, mimicking the gesture. He hits the arm of Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel several times. But the man resists. He then tries to open the door, in vain. Then, Gilles Gamberi throws himself on the ground to take shelter. At the same time, he hears two gunshots. “It happened in ten seconds”, he continues, his voice trembling, before adding: “I don’t know what came over me”. While the truck continues its crazy race, the former railway worker meets a policeman who arrives running. “I tell him that I heard gunshots, but that I don’t know if it was the driver who fired,” he explains. If Gilles Gamberi did not see the face of the terrorist, he describes to the official his position in the cabin. A testimony which will be decisive in enabling the police to put an end to the attack. “I did not see anyone being hit” Around him, dozens of bodies are strewn on the ground. Some are no longer moving, others, seriously injured, call for help. With several survivors, Gilles Gamberi tries to provide first aid. “We tried for a very long time to help people,” he murmurs, moved. Some restaurateurs on the Promenade des Anglais bring him napkins. “We do compression points, tourniquets”. He will then hand over to the firefighters and the Samu teams. A few hours later, the former railway worker was evacuated from the area by the police. He returns to his friends, where he is lodged. “At that time, there is not a sound, the streets are deserted. We could just hear the helicopters bringing in or picking up victims, ”he describes. The man does not take the measure of what has just happened. “It was by watching the news that I realized the enormity of the situation. I didn’t see anyone get hit. It was vague, maybe that’s what allowed me to get out of it, ”he guesses. Six years later, the 71-year-old retiree considers himself “cured”. He was psychologically monitored and resumed sport, which he practiced daily before the attack. “And I have a new companion with whom a new life has begun,” he concludes, with a smile on his face.

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