Trial of November 13: the prosecution demands incompressible life imprisonment against Salah Abdeslam

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Nine months after the opening of the trial for the attacks of November 13, and after three days of requisitions, the three general attorneys requested, on Friday, the incompressible life sentence against Salah Abeslam.

At an extraordinary trial, an exceptional sentence. The Advocates General have requested life imprisonment against Salah Abdeslam with an “incompressible” security period. This sanction, which reduces the possibility of obtaining an adjustment of sentence and therefore a release, was only very rarely requested and pronounced only four times.

Since Wednesday, the three representatives of the National Anti-Terrorist Prosecutor’s Office (Pnat), Camille Hennetier, Nicolas Braconnay and Nicolas Le Bris, have taken turns for nearly fifteen hours in a long story with three voices, dissecting by menu the meticulousness of the logistics of the attacks starting from the genesis of the murderous motivations to the ultimate attacks. From the memory of a magistrate, the exercise is a first.

Friday afternoon, it was first Nicolas Le Bris who opened the last part of the requisitions by returning to the attacks around the Stade de France, on the Parisian terraces and at the Bataclan which left 130 dead and 350 injured. “Almost simultaneously, the lions will enter Paris and Saint-Denis”, he relates, referring to the “lions of the caliphate” of which the Islamic State organization spoke. “Those who committed these heinous crimes are nothing but vulgar terrorists, criminals”, continues the Advocate General in a calm tone.

397 stories of suffering

Were these places chosen at random? The Advocate General doubts it. The targets chosen are not random, “every time, they are crowded terraces” which are at street angles which offer “a very wide angle of fire” and several “paths of escape”.

Nicolas Le Bris then evokes – not without emotion in his voice – the concert hall targeted by the terrorists. “All the people who were there when the jihadists arrived must be considered hostages of the latter.” Taking over the testimonies of “suffering” of the victims, the Advocate General admits “having taken full face” the 397 stories of victims who came to testify at the bar mixing survivors and relatives of the deceased. “Before hearing these stories, my colleagues and I had not yet become aware of any pain.”

The only solution to escape the deluge of “nuts and grapeshot”, to flee at the risk of one’s life, “to play dead or to make oneself tiny”. In the room, “the blood of the victims mixes in a gigantic extended and viscous puddle”. A “sweet November evening that ends in a nightmare”. In short, “shattered lives”.

“Misplaced Loyalty”

No question for the magistrate to ignore the “bravery and courage of the police” of the “first responders” of the Bataclan. Their action was “really decisive”, also welcoming the BRI, the Research and Intervention Brigade, and the Raid.

Then it is the turn of the second general counsel, Nicolas Braconnay, to take over. He talks in a clear voice about the aftermath of the attacks, the escape, the hiding places. And in particular the return of Salah Abdeslam to Belgium. The opportunity to return to the cases of Mohammed Amri, Hamza Attou and Ali Oulkadi, all accused of having helped Salah Abdeslam in his escape. Nicolas Braconnay denounces the “misplaced loyalty to a neighborhood friend”, a certain psychological state, but also “an ideological complacency for jihadist violence, an atmosphere in which they had been bathed for several months”.

After a suspension of the session, it is the turn of Camille Hennetier to bring the last elements of the requisitions. The Advocate General, calm and serene, returns to “the last moments of the terrorist cell”. Nine terrorists died after the attacks and the Raid attack in Saint-Denis on November 18, 2015. The others “will have to go into hiding”. She explains that the defendants did “not grow up in misery, nor in opulence”. On the contrary, they have “almost all benefited from a childhood which they describe as happy, or uneventful”. Reason why, “prison is the only acceptable social response to protect society,” she says.

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