What will be the attitude of Salah Abdeslam? The behavior of the main defendant, very vindictive Wednesday, will be followed with attention Thursday before the special assize court of Paris, during the second day of the trial of the attacks of November 13th.

Thursday’s hearing must, like that of the day before, be devoted solely to the appeal of the civil parties, but the court is not immune from a new outburst from the one towards whom all eyes will still be turned.

At the opening of this “historic” and “extraordinary” trial, Salah Abdeslam, the only surviving member of the commandos which left 130 dead and hundreds wounded in Paris and Saint-Denis on November 13, 2015, affirmed that ‘he had “abandoned any profession to become a fighter for the Islamic State”.

The 31-year-old Franco-Moroccan, who had been rather silent since his arrest in Belgium in March 2016, did not hesitate to speak … even when he was not invited.

The brief discomfort of one of his co-defendants – a total of 20 people are tried for nine months – was the opportunity for Salah Abdeslam to launch a retribution against the French justice.

Standing, the mask removed, raising the tone and the index finger pointed towards the court composed only of professional magistrates, he launches that the defendants are “treated like dogs”.

“It’s very beautiful here, there are flat screens, air conditioning but over there (in prison) we are mistreated, we are like dogs”, belched Abdeslam, accused of complicity in terrorist crimes and who incurs perpetuity.

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“I have been treated like a dog for six years. I have never complained because I know that afterwards we will be resuscitated and that you will have to be held to account,” he added.

“Democratic court”

Unperturbed, the president of the court Jean-Louis Périès was not impressed by the provocations of the accused who received no echo among the ten other men present in the box at his side.

“Here we are not in an ecclesiastical court, we are in a democratic court”, explains the magistrate.

At the start of the hearing on Wednesday, when the court asked him to disclose his identity, Abdeslam declared that “there is no divinity except Allah and that Mohammed is his messenger”.

Thursday, the court must continue the appeal of the civil parties, before the call of the witnesses and the reading of the summary of the file on Friday. The first witnesses are not expected to take the stand until Monday.

For nine months – the largest criminal hearing ever organized in France – the court will dive back into this titanic case. It is unprecedented by its scale – 542 volumes -, by its number of civil parties – at least 1,800 -, and by its emotional charge.

The testimonies of survivors and relatives of the victims will begin on September 28, for five weeks.

Dignity of justice

Before opening the debates on Wednesday, in an unusual way, the president of the court solemnly wished to recall the rules of a criminal trial, and in particular “the respect of the rights of each one, starting with the rights of the defense”, inviting all parties to “keep this finality in mind (…) so as to maintain justice in its dignity”.

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On Friday, November 13, 2015, the night of terror began at 9:16 p.m.: three suicide bombers blew themselves up at the gates of the Stade de France, during a friendly football match between France and Germany.

In the heart of Paris, two three-man commandos machine-gunned terraces of cafes and restaurants and shoot at the crowd of a concert at the Bataclan, where the assault will be given shortly after midnight.

Six years after that night of nightmare, eleven defendants are in the box and three appear free under judicial supervision.

Six other defendants are on trial in their absence including the principal and veteran of the jihad Oussama Atar, and the French “voices” of the IS claim, the brothers Fabien and Jean-Michel Clain, all three presumed dead in Syria .


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