The trial for 20 men accused of planning or executing one of the worst terror attacks to ever hit the West got underway Wednesday. The video above shows a sketch from inside the courtroom and scenes from the courthouse.
The attacks, which happened in several locations around Paris, France in November of 2015, left 130 dead and hundreds wounded.
The worst carnage happened at the Bataclan concert hall where three men with assault rifles gunned down scores of people and grabbed a handful of hostages. Other attackers targeted the national soccer stadium where then-French President François Hollande was attending a game. He was unharmed. They also attacked cafes filled with people.
There were nine attackers in total. Saleh Abdeslam is the lone surviving attacker, and the key defendant in the trial. He allegedly fled the night of the terror attacks after ditching his car and a malfunctioning suicide vest.
Abdeslam is the only defendant charged with murder. The other defendants present face lesser terrorism charges. Of the 20 men charged, six will be tried in absentia.
Abdeslam will be questioned multiple times. Before the trial, he had refused to speak to investigators about the attacks. When asked to state his profession Wednesday, he declared he was “a fighter for Islamic State”.
“I’ve indicated to the victims that it’s strongly possible that he will remain the way he has been,” Catherine Szwarc, the lawyer for seven of the trial’s plaintiffs, said. “They mustn’t nourish hope and then be disappointed. They mustn’t experience violence once again, supplementary.”
The trial for the attacks is scheduled to last nine months. September will be dedicated to laying out police and forensic evidence. October will be given over to victims’ testimony. From November to December, officials will testify, as will relatives of the attackers. Former President Hollande is expected to be a part of official testimony.
None of the proceedings will be televised or rebroadcast to the public, but they will be recorded for archival purposes. Video recording has only been allowed for a handful of cases considered to be of historical value in France.