Apart from the initial formalities of civil status and untimely protests of Salah Abdeslam, the 14 defendants present at the trial of the November 13 attacks had not yet had the floor. On Wednesday September 15, a week after the opening of the hearing, they were able to speak briefly for the first time on the initiative of Jean-Louis Periès, the president of the specially composed assize court of Paris, “To clarify their position in relation to the facts with which they are accused”. In turn, in reverse alphabetical order, each stood up in front of his microphone.
Apart from Sofien Ayari and Osama Krayem – two jihadists suspected of having been sent for an attack in Amsterdam, where they were on November 13, 2015 – who only got up to say that they had nothing to say about this. stadium, the majority of them said a few words, sometimes just a sentence, to let it be known that they were awaiting this trial ” since a long time “, to say “Sorry for the victims”, condemn the attacks “With firmness”, and ensure their will to “Answer all questions”.
For many, this is a first opportunity to distance themselves from the terrorist project, while sometimes partially admitting the facts. “I admit going to look for Salah Abdeslam in Paris, but at no time did I want to engage in terrorism”, thus declares Hamza Attou, one of the two accused having brought back the only survivor of the commandos of November 13 from Paris to Brussels in the night following the attacks. “I was never aware of what had happened”, also defends Mohamed Amri, who was with them in the car.
Between justification and propaganda
Same line of defense for Farid Kharkhach, accused of having provided false identity cards: “I’m not denying my role, but I was unlucky to run into these people, whom I never saw. I would never have believed that these false papers would be linked to these massacres. “” I admit having committed certain acts, I dispute others “, said simply Mohamed Bakkali, who is notably accused of having rented apartments that served as hiding places for terrorists.
“Osama Atar, this is Osama Atar, insists on his side Yassine Atar, brother of the alleged sponsor of the Paris attacks. I think it’s for my family ties that I’m here, but I am not Osama Atar. “” I recognize a tiny, well I recognize my participation in the attacks, but I am not Osama Atar either, continues Mohamed Abrini, “the man in the hat” who gave up at the last minute to blow himself up at Brussels airport on March 22, 2016, and who was in Paris on November 12, 2015 before returning to Belgium. I am not the sponsor or the brains of the operations, I have not provided any logistical or financial assistance. “
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