Nice attack trial: testifying to the"atrocity" and pay homage "to the life"

Of the 2,000 civil parties constituted, 300 expressed the wish to speak at the bar. Five weeks will be devoted to their stories.

The civil parties began to testify this Tuesday in Paris at the trial of the Nice attack, to tell the court the “atrocity” of what they experienced, to “turn a page” or “pay homage” to the disappeared.

“I will try to show who Camille was, what she had done in her short life. It will be a hymn to life”, provides Anne Murris, who will talk about her only daughter on September 29, killed at 27 by the Mohamed Lahouaiej-Bouhlel’s ram truck on July 14, 2016.

This 31-year-old Tunisian deliberately drove into the crowd gathered on the Promenade des Anglais for the National Day, killing 86 and injuring more than 450.

Five weeks to testify

Since September 5, the special assize court in Paris has tried eight defendants, members of the assailant’s entourage or suspected of arms trafficking. After summoning investigators, technical experts and trauma specialists, the court heard this Tuesday two first civil parties: Jérôme Calatraba, manager of a nightclub transformed into an “advanced medical post” after the attack, who hopes to have “done the maximum to help save victims. Then Sandrine Bertolotto, a young woman injured in the ankle jumping on the beach to escape the attack.

Caught in a crowd movement, she thought she was fleeing “an exchange of fire”. It was after the fact that she realized that the loud noises heard as she took refuge in a restaurant below probably corresponded to the truck hitting a pergola and a candy stand, “at the place where I had jumped”.

Out of more than 2,000 civil parties in the trial, nearly 300 have expressed the wish to testify. Some were present on the Promenade des Anglais the evening of the attack and were injured or traumatized, others lost one or more loved ones, sometimes an entire family. Five weeks will be devoted to them.

“Atrocity of facts”

These depositions will allow “to have a more human point of view on what happened” on July 14, 2016, after the projection last Thursday of video surveillance images of the attack, observes Virginie Le Roy, lawyer for 105 parties. civil.

“The word of the victims in a terrorist trial is essential to realize the atrocity of the facts”, also believes Yves Hartemann, lawyer for around sixty of them.

“I don’t think I’m going to recount the scene in detail,” said Sophie Desvergnes, a musician who played on a stage the night of the attack. At the helm on October 6, she hears “especially about the aftermath”, “say (…) how much our life can be transformed”, even if “I did not lose anyone that evening, I I was not physically injured.”

The testimony is generally “saving”, in particular for the victims suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, often confronted with the incomprehension of the relatives, explains Héloïse Joly, neuropsychologist in Nice, who evaluated many victims of the attack and testified Friday at trial.

To file, “is to be recognized in the fact of being traumatized, and to see that we are not the only ones to experience this, to understand that it is something normal. It is very guilt-free”, adds- she.

The challenge is different for the “mourners”, explains Anne Murris, it is “a work against oblivion”, to “pay homage” to loved ones who have disappeared “in the solemnity of a court”.

“Dreaded Exercise”

“It’s an exercise that I dread”, confides the president of Memorial des anges, aware that at the helm she will again become “the mother of Camille Murris, plunged back six years, when I was looking for my child “after the attack .

Some have written a text to the word, others have for the moment “bubbles of ideas” in mind, such as Stéphane Erbs, who will evoke September 30 – “the day of my birthday” – his wife Rachel, a of the first victims of the assailant’s murderous journey.

The co-president of the Promenade des Anges association also planned to address the defendants, in particular the three prosecuted for association with terrorist criminals, to “tell them (…) that I do not believe in their speech” affirming that they did not know the intentions of Mohamed Lahouaiej-Bouhlel. Conversely, “I give them no affect, no thought. I don’t even have anger towards them”, explains Anne Murris.

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