several defense lawyers criticize the November 13 trial

“We can legitimately think that this trial foreshadows a victory for terrorism. »

The load is heavy. Twenty days after the verdict of the trial of the attacks of November 13 and ten days after the expiry of the deadline for appeal making it final, eleven lawyers who defended several defendants published a column in Le Monde on Monday questioning the holding of the proceedings. Among them are notably My Olivia Ronen and Martin Vettes, the two lawyers of Salah Abdeslam, sentenced to life imprisonment.

The thirty counsels who intervened in defense were solicited upstream about this platform. But the majority did not wish to be associated with it.

For those who signed the text, “the conduct of this trial and the resulting solution are in contradiction with the founding principles of our criminal legislation”. The criminal lawyers thus consider that “the principle of strict interpretation of criminal law has been abandoned”, and “the burden of proof reversed”, castigating the judgment of the special assize court accused of validating “the most wobbly” such as “coaction”. It is on this legal analysis that the magistrates relied to inflict the heaviest sentence in French law on Salah Abdeslam, the only member of the terrorist commandos still alive, and considered to be a co-perpetrator of all the crime scenes, including those where he was not present.

Asked about France Inter the day after the verdict, Me Olivia Ronen had already called into question “a great elasticity of criminal law” and “something a little strange” on this point.

“It is the prosecution that the doubt has benefited”

Unsurprisingly, the collective of lawyers also denounces the qualification of association of terrorist criminals, often implicated on the benches of the defense. “It is the prosecution that the doubt has benefited”, they underline before criticizing a verdict which is for them “a political decision before being a legal decision”. As Mes Ronen and Vettes had said during their pleadings, speaking of a “white death”, the incompressible life sentence is compared to a “slow death sentence”. “The lighter sentences imposed on a few other defendants only responded to strategic, that is to say political, considerations”, adds the forum, which considers that the sanctions were only intended to encourage them to do not appeal. Which was the case.

“The fate of twenty defendants was debated in 48 hours”, deplore the defense lawyers, who wonder: “was there really room for debate in such a short time? How not to think that everything was played in advance? »

“Very frustrating”

The president of Life for Paris Arthur Dénouveaux, one of the associations of victims of the attacks of November 13, 2015 which left 132 dead, quickly reacted to this platform. In his eyes, the defense “is doing the trial of the trial and trying to use it to criticize anti-terrorism justice, he wrote on Twitter. By calling those who disagree naive. “To say that terrorism has won is an inversion of guilt to which we cannot subscribe,” adds his counterpart from 13onze15 Fraternité et Vérité. The trial may not have been exemplary in all, but it was for the civil parties, who found there the place to express their suffering. And that remains a fair trial”, develops Philippe Duperron, who underlines however that “this is not the point of view of all the victims”.

“Attacking what would have been a political trial by a political forum under the guise of law is quite curious”, comments for his part the historian Christophe Naudin, survivor of the Bataclan attack.

The initiative is sometimes judged harshly by other defense lawyers, while the “trial of the century” seemed to have ended with the observation that all the parties had been able to express themselves, despite the shortcomings of a hearing which lasted ten months.

Me Negar Haeri, lawyer for Mohammed Amri, did not wish to sign the forum but she supports the approach: “I do not agree with all of what is said there, but I too felt a very strong frustration at not being able to encourage my client to appeal a decision that is contestable for him and for me. Because by appealing, he would have remained in pre-trial detention. I couldn’t sacrifice his freedom. »

“We must remember one thing: it is not because we do not appeal a decision that we fully subscribe to it. Things are always more nuanced,” adds the criminal lawyer, who says she was “stunned” when reading the reasons for the verdict. “I remain in total disagreement with the factual and legal elements put forward,” she said.

“Unfair maneuver”

On the civil party side, a lawyer expressed his “tremendous astonishment” when one of his colleagues, Me Virginie Le Roy, showed herself to be quite upset, finding “the maneuver unfair”. “Frankly, it leaves me skeptical,” she said, believing that “certain elements” of the platform “are false”. “If the law has really been violated – which is not my opinion – it was necessary to appeal and then seize the court of cassation. One cannot, as a lawyer, reproach the court for not respecting the law without using the weapons provided for by this same law”.

“I read it and it bothers me a lot, abounds Me Aude Rimailho. To say that Salah Abdeslam was deterred from appealing is nonsense. It is very shocking to comment on a court decision, especially from the defense. »

Questioned on Monday on this platform, the Minister of Justice Eric Dupond-Moretti, who declared in an interview with Le Parisien that “the trial of November 13 does honor to the justice of our country” did not wish to comment.

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