Final words at Paris attacks trial and complaints over compensation

·2-min read

Lawyers for the victims of the November 2015 terrorist attacks are continuing their concluding remarks. The Special Criminal Court is a theatre of contradiction, with the black robes offering everything from flamboyant rhetoric to dignified common sense. The 14 accused who are physically present show rare signs of attention.

Salah Abdeslam woke up at the mention of his name.

A lawyer called him a liar, saying that Abdeslam, the sole survivor of the terrorist squads whose actions cost 132 people their lives, had not renounced on his murderous mission as a suicide bomber out of human sympathy, as he has claimed, but simply because his explosive jacket did not explode.

"He told his friends that it had failed to go off," the court was reminded. "How could he have known if he hadn't tried?"

Several lawyers on Thursday rejected Abdeslam's earlier claim that he appeared before the court as "a warrior of Allah".

"I have seen no warriors at this trial," said one. "I have, however, seen heroic men and women of peace who have told us of their struggles to stay upright, to keep going."

Another black robe explained that he had himself fought in the Croatian National Guard.

"There's a code of honour among fighters. You don't touch civilians, especially civilians who have done absolutely nothing against you."

Once again on Thursday, many lawyers spoke on behalf of those who have not had the strength to be present themselves.

Fund for victims

There were further complaints about the state guarantee fund, which is supposed to compensate victims of terrorism.

A lawyer who says his 28-year-old client is subject to suicidal depression and has not been adequately indemnified called on the government to abandon the fund in its existing form "and start from scratch".

Earlier this week, the lawyer representing that very fund explained that 155 million euros had already been paid to victims, at an average of 60,000 euros per victim, with the vast majority of the compensation agreements reached without conflict.

She assured the court that initial payments were made "on the simple presentation of a ticket" for the Bataclan concert, and that the remaining "tiny number" of disputed claims were being dealt with by the courts.

To reduce human suffering to statistics, 6 percent of the 2,630 recognised victims are still contesting the amount of compensation proposed.

The fund has been generous with the victims, we were assured.

"But the fund is a public service, not an insurance scheme. We remain in close contact with the victims' associations. We have tried to avoid unnecessary delays."

The trial continues.

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