After 10 months of hearing, the trial of the attacks of November 13, 2015, which left 130 dead and 350 injured in Paris and Saint-Denis, is approaching verdict, expected next Wednesday at the Paris courthouse. This Monday, June 27, the court hears for the last time the floor of the fourteen defendants present, including Salah Abdeslam. He is the sole survivor of the terrorist commandos.
On this occasion, France Bleu Occitanie wonders: what should we remember from this river trial? To answer this question, Mathieu Riberolles is our guest this Monday morning. This lawyer represents the parents of Anne-Laure Arruebo. Originally from Quint-Fonsegrives (Haute-Garonne), this 36-year-old young woman was killed on November 13, 2015 on the terrace of La Belle Equipe in Paris.
She told us that during this trial, she did not get all the answers, that she did not find peace. So this trial would have served no purpose?
No, we cannot assume that it was useless. This is a symbolic moment. He brought many answers to people who did not know the file. This is the whole point of the oral nature of the debates and it seems to me that this hearing nevertheless made it possible to provide a certain number of answers, but not all of them.
And I understand very well Claudine Arruebo and all the civil parties, who consider that they did not have all the answers, in particular on the lack of interaction between the Belgian and French intelligence services which might have prevented or limited the extent of the disaster. Nor did they get all the answers on France’s anticipation of military interventions in Syria and Iraq and on the risk of attacks on French territory.
Yes, Anne-Laure Arruebo’s dad told us that he expected a lot from the intervention of François Hollande. Maître Riberolles as a lawyer, what do you remember in particular from this trial?
Above all, I will remember the testimony of my client, Jean-Bernard Arruebo, on October 5, 2020. His testimony was followed by that of the director of the customs service, where Anne-Laure worked and the testimony of her best friend.
More generally, I will retain all the testimonies of the victims and their relatives in October. These testimonies have not finished seizing us and haunt the Paris courthouse. I will also remember strong moments like that of the intervention of the commissioner of the BAC 75 Night. He is the first policeman to have entered the Bataclan: he put an end to this carnage by shooting down Samy Amimour, one of the terrorists.
Another very strong moment that I will remember from this trial: Sonia’s testimony. The one who hosted Abdelhamid Abaaoud’s cousin denounced her and thus enabled the attacks to be put an end to. Since obviously there were two [terroristes] survivors who had other plans.
The defendants can speak for the last time this morning. You will attend the hearing, do you expect them to speak and to say what?
Some defendants did not speak at all, others much more. For example, Yassine Attar, who never stopped explaining himself, may want to speak one last time. Someone like Osama Krayem, who remained silent during the entire trial, should maintain the same posture. Salah Abdeslam may try to regain control of the trial one last time, after the lawyers’ pleadings.
Salah Abdeslam, the only survivor of the commando, against whom incompressible life imprisonment was required. It is a very rare sentence which has only been pronounced four times and which means, concretely, life imprisonment. The verdict will be known the day after tomorrow but do you think that Salah Abdeslam should be sentenced to this sentence?
I would not allow myself, even before the deliberation is delivered, to say what penalty he should be sentenced to. And then I won’t comment on it.
But in this case, the prosecution almost systematically demanded the heaviest sentences provided for in the Code of Criminal Procedure. This irreducible life sentence was pronounced against Salah Abdeslam because the prosecution accuses him of having participated in the attack on the Bataclan and of having targeted the police.
But after November 13, 2015, the law changed. The irreducible perpetuity is now applicable to all terrorists. The fact is that this law is not retroactive and therefore cannot be applied to the terrorists of November 13. The only possibility for the prosecution to request against them this strongest sentence was to attach them to this provision of the code of criminal procedure, on the targeting of the police.
Do you think this sentence will not be pronounced?
The Assize Court will have to rule on this theory of the prosecution. His reading consists of saying that all the targets of the Paris attacks constitute one and the same crime scene and that Abdeslam is the co-author.
In the end, won’t the most difficult for the relatives of the victims be the aftermath? Will the end of this historic trial leave a void for families like the Arruebos?
After the ordeal of November 13, after the six-year wait before the trial and the months of hearings, I think we have to look ahead, waiting for a possible call. That we take up the challenges that come our way.
A call you think is possible?
We can’t rule it out, of course.