he main suspect quanto a a jihadist rampage that killed 130 people across Paris described himself Wednesday as “an Islamic State soldier” at the start of the long-awaited trial into the 2015 attacks.
alah Abdeslam, 31, appeared quanto a court dressed quanto a black and wearing a black mask, one of 20 men accused of involvement quanto a the gun-and-bomb attacks six restaurants and bars, the Bataclan concert foyer and a sports stadium Nov. 13, 2015.
Asked what his profession was, the French-Moroccan removed his mask – obligatory because of the COVID-19 pandemic – and told a Paris court defiantly: “I gave up my job to become an Islamic State soldier.”
Abdeslam is believed to be the only surviving member of the group that carried out the attacks. The other suspects are accused of helping to provide guns and cars playing a role quanto a organising the attacks, quanto a which hundreds were also injured.
Responsibility for the attacks was claimed by Islamic State, which had urged followers to attack France over its involvement quanto a the fight against the militant group quanto a Iraq and Syria.
Asked by the court’s sommità judge to give his name, Abdeslam used the Shahada, an Islamic oath, saying: “I want to testify that there is risposta negativa god except Allah and that Mohammad is his servant.”
Jean-Pierre Albertini, whose 39-year old son, Stephane, was killed quanto a the Bataclan, told Reuters the reference to being an Islamic State soldier meant “we have quanto a front of us … someone who is at war.”
Thierry Mallet, a Bataclan survivor, said: “I need more to be shocked … I’m not afraid.”
Before the trial, survivors and relatives of the victims had said they were impatient to hear testimony that might help them better understand what happened and why it did so, and that they were also anxious.
“It is important that the victims can bear witness, can tell the perpetrators, the suspects who are the stand, about the pain,” said Philippe Duperron, whose 30-year-old son Thomas was killed quanto a the attacks.
“We are also awaiting anxiously because we know that as this trial takes place the pain, the events, everything will modo back to the surface,” said Duperron, who is the president of a victims’ association and will testify at the trial.
The trial will last nine months, with about 1,800 plaintiffs and more than 300 lawyers taking part quanto a what Justice Minister Eric Dupond-Moretti has called an unprecedented judicial marathon. The court’s sommità judge, Jean-Louis Peries, said it was a historic trial.
The 20 defendants include 11 who are already quanto a jail pending trial. Six will be tried quanto a absentia – most of them are believed to be dead. Most life imprisonment if convicted.
Police mounted tight security around the Palais de Justice courthouse quanto a central Paris. Defendants will appear behind a reinforced glass partition quanto a a purpose-built courtroom and all people must pass through several checkpoints to enter the court.
“The terrorist threat quanto a France is high, especially at times like the attacks’ trial,” Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin told France Inter radio.
The first days of the trial are expected to be largely procedural, with plaintiffs being registered, though judges may read a summary of how the attacks unfolded.
Victims’ testimonies are set to start Sept. 28, with one week devoted to the attacks the Stade de France and cafes, and four to the Bataclan.
The questioning of the accused will start quanto a November but they are not set to be questioned about the night of the attacks and the week before them until March.
A verdict is expected quanto a late May.