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Nine-month long trial of attackers accused over 2015 Paris attacks begins in France

The lone survivor of the extremist cell from that night, Salah Abdeslam, is the key defendant.

Le Carillon cafe, a site of one of the attacks.
Le Carillon cafe, a site of one of the attacks.
Image: Jerome Delay/AP

Updated Sep 8th 2021, 6:38 PM

THE LAST SURVIVING assailant of the November 2015 attacks on Paris has appeared in court at the start of a historic trial over the night of horror that sent shockwaves through France.

The proceedings are expected to last nine months in a purpose-built facility in the city centre and will constitute the biggest trial in the country’s modern history.

The suicide bombing and gun assault by three teams of jihadists on bars, restaurants and the Bataclan music venue – planned in Syria and later claimed by the Islamic State group – left 130 people dead and around 350 physically injured.

A total of 20 suspects have been charged, including surviving attacker Salah Abdeslam who fled Paris for Brussels in the chaotic aftermath of the bloodshed after discarding his suicide belt.

After refusing to cooperate with French investigators, the 31-year-old stated his Islamic faith as he was asked to identify himself today, saying “there is no god but Allah”.

The Franco-Moroccan national was also asked to confirm his profession and the identity of his parents as part of standard first-day trial formalities.

“I gave up all professions to become a fighter for the Islamic State,” he replied, adding that “the names of my father and mother have nothing to do with this”.

A total of 14 defendants are being tried in person and six others will be judged in their absence.

The trial will last until May 2022 with 145 days of scheduled hearings involving about 330 lawyers, 300 victims and testimony in November from Francois Hollande, who was French president at the time of the attacks.

The files for the trial run to a million pages bound in 542 volumes, detailing an investigation that has revealed links between the jihadists and their handlers from Syria to Brussels and Paris.

As well as Abdeslam, the other 13 accused present in court – who face charges ranging from providing logistical support to planning the attacks as well as weapons offences – were also asked to give their names, addresses and professions today.

They include Osama Krayem, a Swede whom Belgian investigators identified as one of the killers of a Jordanian pilot burnt alive in a cage by IS in early 2015 in Syria. He is also under investigation in Sweden for war crimes.

The alleged coordinator, Belgian citizen Abdelhamid Abaaoud, was killed by French police northeast of Paris five days after the attacks.

The other nine attackers were either shot dead or blew themselves up.

Of the six tried in absentia, five are presumed dead, mainly in air strikes in Syria.

The horror was unleashed late on Friday, 13 November, when the first attackers detonated suicide belts outside the Stade de France stadium where Hollande was watching France play a football match against Germany.

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A group of gunmen, including Abdeslam’s brother Brahim, later opened fire from a car on half a dozen restaurants.

The massacre culminated at the Bataclan.

© AFP 2021

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