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Attacks of November 13: why the trial which opens on Wednesday is historic – BFMTV


1,800 civil parties, more than 300 lawyers, 141 accredited media … The trial of the November 13 attacks, which opens this Wednesday before the specially composed Assize Court, required an unprecedented organization.

We are already talking about a “historic” event. The trial of the November 13 attacks opens this Wednesday and is to be held for nearly nine months before the special assize court. Historic by the scale of the tragedy, which left 130 dead on the evening of November 13, 2015 – the deadliest attack ever committed in France. History also by the extraordinary organization of these audiences. Explanations.

• The trial will last 9 months, for a file of 542 volumes

The investigation into the November 13 attacks lasted four and a half years. Nine anti-terrorism judges worked on this case. In total, the file made up of investigative acts, testimonies, expert opinions, among others, is colossal: 542 volumes for a million pages.

At the end of their work, the judges referred 20 people to the court specially composed to try terrorism cases. They are all suspected of having had a role in the preparation or realization of the attacks of November 13, 2015. In view of the scale of the case, the number of defendants and civil parties – nearly 1,800 – justice has provided for nearly nine months of hearings.

The trial begins this Wednesday, September 8 and must be held until May 25, 2022, after two days of reading the verdict, or 140 hearing days initially scheduled. The specially composed Assize Court will sit from 12:30 p.m. Tuesday to Friday, as well as some Mondays. However, there will be no hearing on November 13.

• A courtroom has been specially built

Nearly 1,800 people, of about twenty nationalities, have already become civil parties for this trial. If all do not wish, many of them will attend the debates. For justice, the first challenge then has to find a place to welcome them, as well as their 300 lawyers, to which are added the journalists of the 141 accredited media and the general public.

Initially, it was even considered to hold the trial under a marquee outside of Paris. But for all the actors involved, it was very clear that this trial had to be held in a place of justice. A room was therefore entirely built to accommodate the debates, in the former courthouse of Paris, on the Ile de la Cité. The deadline was tight since the work started in March 2020 and was completed at the beginning of the summer, only a few weeks ago.

The room specially built to host the trial of the November 13 attacks.
The room specially built to host the trial of the November 13 attacks. © Thomas Samson

The “Grand trial” room, 45 meters long and 15 meters wide, has a capacity of 550 seats. In this room, it was necessary to “optimize each square meter”, explained Jean-Michel Hayat, the First President of the Paris Court of Appeal. For example, he wants the seven additional desks installed so that all defense lawyers can be seated when 24 places were initially planned for them. About fifteen rooms of the Court of Appeal may also be used to broadcast the proceedings, for a total capacity of 1,000 to 1,200 places.

• An exceptional safety device is planned

The security system will be exceptional. A perimeter will be set up on court days around the courthouse with search points at the entrance to the perimeter. Vehicles will also be searched. Road traffic is also prohibited on the Boulevard du Palais and on the Quai des Orfèvres and the Quai de l’Horloge. Pedestrians will also be prohibited from entering Quai des Orfèvres, but authorized on other axes. The routes of the buses passing through this perimeter have been modified.

Access to the courthouse will also be closely guarded. Checks with gates will be carried out at the entrance to the courthouse on rue de Harlay. A sense of circulation has also been sanctuarized up to the courtroom. There, further checks will be carried out again. In the area around the main courtroom, a maximum capacity of 1000 people will be set up.

Finally, to protect the victims and their relatives who will attend the trial, a cordon system has been planned to differentiate those who agree to testify to journalists and those who refuse.

• The hearings will be filmed

The trial of the November 13 attacks will be the thirteenth trial – in 35 years – filmed for the purpose of building up historical archives. It is a law of 1985 which allows the establishment of this exceptional capture. At the end of the “Grand trial” room, a control room has been installed from which the eight cameras which will film the proceedings will be controlled.

The courtroom specially built for the trial of the attacks of November 13, 2015 at the Palais de Justice in Paris, June 4, 2021
The courtroom built especially for the trial of the attacks of November 13, 2015 at the Palais de Justice in Paris, June 4, 2021 © Thomas SAMSON © 2019 AFP

Before the trial of the attacks which left 130 dead, the trial of Klaus Barbie in 1987, of Paul Touvier in 1994 and of Maurice Papon in 1997 and 1998, all tried for their role in the extermination of the Jews carried out by the Nazi regime, were captured. More recently, the trial of the January 2015 attacks which took place at the beginning of the year was also filmed.

The consultation of these images, which will be kept in the National Archives, will be possible for researchers at the end of the trial, that is to say when all avenues of appeal have been exhausted. On the other hand, reproduction and distribution of all or part of the debates will only be possible in 50 years.

• An internet radio will broadcast the debates for the victims

The civil parties will have access to an Internet radio in order to be able to follow the proceedings remotely. A first in legal history.

“The idea was that the victims have privileged access to this trial and can follow it other than like the general public”, explains Arthur Dénouveaux, the president of the association of victims Life for Paris.

A legislative change was necessary to launch this web radio, access to which will be secured by personal codes. The debates will be broadcast after half an hour to cut off the broadcast in the event of an incident and protect victims who listen.

As such, psychological support will be offered to victims and their relatives. A cell made up of 12 professionals will be present in court and a listening line will be set up for those who use Internet radio.


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