They are about thirty lawyers of what is seen as the “Devil”: the group of 20 accused of the most serious attacks committed in France since 1945. They will face a veritable wall for eight months, 1,800 civil parties, assisted by hundreds of other lawyers, a block of pain and grief, survivors traumatized, bereaved parents.
The defense will have before it above all three prosecutors, Camille Hennetier, Nicolas Le Bris and Nicolas Braconnay, who will speak on behalf of a society shaken since the attacks of 2015. In this context, the five years of instruction do not have already not been very calm for the advice of the suspects.
The Lille tenor Frank Berton, threatened with death and publicly insulted as long as he represented Salah Abdeslam, the only survivor of the commando of killers, finally threw in the towel, more or less ousted by his client in favor of a young colleague, Olivia Ronen31 years.
The Lille resident was in any case not very keen on the idea of representing an accused refusing to discuss a defense system and even to express himself. “I won’t be Salah’s flowerpot”said Me Berton.
Without going into the details of the case, Mr. Ronen said on the airwaves of France Inter that he wanted to make it clear that “those who are called terrorists are common people, people like us, who at some point go off the rails”.
Insults and death threats
William Bourdon and Yassine Bouzrou, two other experienced criminal lawyers, also left the case before the trial. On the other hand, many Belgian lawyers will be in Paris to defend the survivors of the radicalized group from the town of Molenbeek, near Brussels, at the origin of the attacks. This is the case of Me Stanislas Eskenaziadvice from Mohamed Abrini, a childhood friend of the Abdeslam brothers and considered a key figure in the group.
“It’s the trial of a lifetime for anyone who loves this profession. It will take humility and responsibility to express the word of the defense without scratching any civil party”analyzes Me Eskenazi, 40, who says he suffered insults and death threats, which led him to withdraw from social networks.
The young French guard of the defense intends to individualize the examination of the cases and thus to fight the idea of the accusation which sees in the box a “group” terrorist. “All defendants should benefit from the presumption of innocence. Our role will be very complicated, but we will have to remember that it is better for everyone that innocent people are not condemned”remember Raphael Kempf37, lawyer for Yassine Atar, supposed supporter of the criminal group, who claims to be innocent.
Defense lawyers have not agreed on a common defense system, for the good reason that they have very different positions. “We judge men, we do not make a national catharsis, even if that is what some would like to do. It is the trial of the accused, not a hearing for the civil parties”, warns Delphine Boesel, 47, lawyer for Hamza Attou, accused of exfiltrating Salah Abdeslam from Paris on the evening of November 13. Me Boesel has already obtained the abandonment of the charge of terrorism at the instruction.
“We do not defend the act, but the man”
Committed at the start of the business, the old “conference secretarieselite of the Paris criminal bar formed after an annual eloquence contest, will be well represented in the defense, as Lea Dordilly35, who defends the Algerian Adel Haddadi, a fighter sent from Syria for November 13 but intercepted in Austria.
“I accepted a public service mission, like a doctor who is doing his internship. Our room for maneuver is small, but it is accepted that we do not defend the act, but the man”. She says she is happy to have learned her trade in a particular and historic moment of French criminal justice, of which she can be proud, according to her.