How are the lawyers preparing the civil parties to experience the trial of the Nice attack which begins on Monday?

No less than five weeks (out of the three months of hearings) will be devoted to hearing the civil parties of the July 14 attack. Five weeks during which, at the helm of the special assize court in Paris, hundreds of victims, families of victims, injured in their flesh and in their being, mainly from the Côte d’Azur, but also from Marseille, Var, Reunion Island, Canada, Kurdistan, Ukraine, Ivory Coast.

“The trial will take place in a very large room. It’s impressive. There will be all these black dresses. We will have to get up, get off the bench, cross the room and speak in front of the defendants. We are preparing our clients to all this” details Me David Rebibou, one of the lawyers for the civil parties, member of “14-07 lawyers”.

Formed in the fall, this group is made up of around twenty criminal lawyers or lawyers specializing in personal injury from the bars of Nice, Grasse, Lyon and Ajaccio. They represent between 350 and 400 victims constituted or to be constituted.

“Hold Their Hands”

“Our role is to explain to them in simple words the procedure, the role of each and the principle of justice according to which everyone has the right to a fair trial.explains Me Mélissa Merceret. We are there to carry their voice, to make them feel what they went through that evening, but also to be there to hold their hand when they testify on the stand.”

Eighty civil parties (to date) have agreed to come and testify. Others will not come as the task seems insurmountable to them. And then there are those who still hesitate. “We try to convince them by explaining to them that not coming would be giving way to the accused” insists Me David Rebibou.

“Change spotlight direction”

“It is never the trial of the victims. It is that of the perpetrators. The civil parties could have the impression that the light is only shined on the accused, adds Me Benjamin Ollie. It’s up to them to change the direction of the spotlight”.

“Among my clients, some have said to me ‘what’s the point of this trial since the main author is dead?’ reports Me Rose Mba Kamagne. We had to explain to them that we were not judging a dead person..

“Some expect big sentences” notes Sabria Mosbah.

“A liberation of speech”

“We prepare our clients to be disappointed with the penalties in relation to their injuries, explains David Rebibou. We invite them to take this trial from another angle, which is the freedom of speech. Because how are the defendants going to behave? We don’t know”.

“No matter how well we prepare for the hearing, we are never safe from a surprise, an about-face” confirms Me Houdé Zgaren.

“Two-thirds of my clients want to be recognized as victims but do not want compensation because they feel they are taking the part of someone else who has suffered more or been more injured. Or because ‘it’s about the money of the state and not that of the authors’ recalls Me Cathy Guittard.

“A trial for history”

How are the black dresses preparing to live personally, intimately, these three emotionally charged months of hearings?

“This trial, you have to live it. It’s a trial for history, slice Me Nicolas Gemsa. We lawyers have a shell.”

“We are sponges, but above all we are human beings” emphasizes Me Houdé Zgaren. “Some colleagues, who assisted the civil parties in the trial of the Paris attacks [qui s’est achevé en juin], did not want to follow up on that of Nice. In particular because, unlike in Paris, there are, among the victims, children” report the Riviera lawyers.

“We will have to hold on and create decompression valves because if the emotion is too strong, we risk not being effectiveanalyzes Me Mélissa Merceret.

As for a possible collective argument, such as that proposed by the lawyers for the civil parties in the trial of the attacks of November 13, “we are not yet fixed” concludes the collective of 14-7 lawyers.


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