Twenty people linked to the November 2015 terrorist attacks in France went on trial in Paris Wednesday in proceedings expected to last nine months.
Six defendants are being charged in absentia. Reports say five of the six are presumed dead in Iraq or Syria.
Nine Islamic State terrorists, mostly from France and Belgium, left a trail of horror in a multi-pronged attack at the national stadium, various bars and restaurants and at a concert at the Bataclan Theater. A total of 130 people were killed, 90 of them at the concert hall. At least 490 people were injured.
A 10th member of the terror cell and the only one still alive, Salah Abdeslam, was arrested in Brussels four months after the November 13, 2015, strikes. He is accused of helping the others.
In his court appearance, Abdeslam, 31, called himself an “Islamic State soldier.” When asked what his profession was, he said, “I gave up my job to become an Islamic State soldier.”
Even though most of the alleged perpetrators are dead, some hope the trial will bring closure to the families of the victims.
“This trial is really an important step for the victims, those who have been wounded or injured, and those who lost members of their families,” Michael Dantinne, professor of criminology at the University of Liege, told France 24.
He added that “it is only a step in the recovery process of the victims” and that “it won’t have any magical effect.”
The trial is being held in a specially constructed court in Paris and described as the biggest in France’s modern day legal history.
Source: Voice of America