13-November. In this trial for history, the legal fight of the defendants’ lawyers

No one will be satisfied. Xavier Nogueras, a lawyer specializing in “terro”, has experience of these trials and he knows it. “The expectation is high. It is that of responses, in the field of individual and collective responsibilities. But they cannot be given by the direct perpetrators of the attacks, so that creates additional frustration. » The fourteen accused in the trial of the attacks of November 13, 2015 present in the box do not speak in place of the suicide bombers, who died in the suicide attacks at the Stade de France, on the Parisian terraces and at the Bataclan. The sponsors are presumed deceased in Syria. There remain the logisticians and the “small hands” alongside a few presumed members of the commandos and a single survivor, Salah Abdeslam.

Xavier Nogueras, 41, has worn the robe on the defense benches so many times, alongside defendants or defendants in terrorism cases, that he has received a label that annoys him: “the lawyer of the jihad”. Some “70 trials of young people who went to the area or who had plans to do so” necessarily make him measure the magnitude of the load that weighs on his shoulders. With the November 13 trial, a whole country has its eyes turned towards them, the lawyers of those who plunged it into fear, before the permanent state of emergency. Millions of French and foreigners follow the hearing, after having been grappled with the horror.

A legal marathon

Most defense attorneys are court-appointed. They are the members of the prestigious Conference of the Paris Bar, elected after an eloquence competition. A few others were chosen by their client. Like Raphaël Kempf, more used to defending activists and yellow vests. Yassine Atar called on him when he was transferred to France in 2018. “When you’re a young criminal lawyer, you spontaneously say to yourself that it’s interesting. » At 37, this trial could mark a turning point. “I studied the file. And I realized that the task was going to be extremely difficult. With the special assize court, we face an exceptional justice, more severe and repressive. » He wants to make the voice of his client heard, who proclaims his innocence. “What’s important is the man I’m defending and the situation he’s in. »

Raphaël Kempf, lawyer for Yassine Atar (with Me Christian Saint-Palais). © West-France

For Marie Violleau, who took the oath in 2018, the question arose as to whether she should accept. At the “terro”, the lawyer ” favorite “ narcotics and organized crime cases. But defending Mohamed Abrini meant intervening alongside “one of the world’s No. 1 public enemies” and that was ” a challenge “ which she could not refuse. “In this trial, as defense lawyers, we participate in the manifestation of the truth. We are working so that this rolling stone does not crush everything. »

photo marie violleau, mohamed abrini's lawyer.  © west-france

Marie Violleau, lawyer for Mohamed Abrini. © West-France

By coming to flesh out the defense of the accused, with Stanislas Eskenazi, she started a one-year legal marathon. Twelve months of hard work, while following other files, in Ile-de-France, Nantes or Angers. “It affects me, nervously. Even when we are not there, we are there”she describes.

“There are real legal fights to be fought”adds Stanislas Eskenazi, the Belgian, who specializes in tax law. “I’m not here to represent, but to defend. » His client is suspected of having played a logistical and financial role in the Paris attacks. The 40-year-old lawyer wants to understand. And “give understanding” in “bringing the facts into the reality of their context. You have to smell the smell of Molenbeek in 2015 », explains the one who knows the Brussels district well, presented as one of the cradles of terrorism in Europe. He too fears that“in the end, it’s like a steamroller that crushes everyone”even if he “refuses to believe the dice are loaded”he said.

photo stanislas eskenazi, lawyer for mohamed abrini.  © dr.

Stanislas Eskenazi, lawyer for Mohamed Abrini. © DR

“Don’t get carried away”

Like his colleagues, he bears witness to the emotion conveyed by the testimonies of civil parties, victims and relatives of victims, in the fall and then in May. “It was intense. A torrent of pain. » The lawyer uses an image to describe the place which is his and that of the other lawyers of the defendants: “We stay on the edge of the river and it overflows. So you have to be careful not to get carried away. »

The attacks killed 130 people and two more, victims who committed suicide. As well as hundreds of injured. There are 2,400 civil parties to the trial. “Time had to be devoted to speaking to them. » Xavier Nogueras believes in the didactic virtues of the audience. On the explanation of the mechanisms of radicalization. On the “AMT”, the offense of terrorist criminal association. For this lawyer, the November 13 trial is “a culmination, in the field of legal reflection”.

After the verdict, then the Nice trial, it will perhaps take another trajectory. Her “great passion”, it’s the music, the guitar. Concerts. Life.

+++ Read also: Trial of 13-November. These strange behaviors of terrorists that still amaze investigators

+++ Read also: PORTRAIT. November 13 trial: the Belgian lawyer defends the reality of Molenbeek

+++ Read also: Lawyer Christian Saint-Palais defends a terrorist and victims of attacks in two trials

+++ Read also: Trial of November 13: “You have the destiny of a man in your hands”, pleads a lawyer

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