The trial of the November 13 attacks resumed chaotically on Thursday to be finally sent back again to Tuesday, the time to submit the main accused, Salah Abdeslam, still positive for Covid-19, to a medical second opinion.
After three hours of deliberation, the president of the special assize court of Paris, Jean-Louis Périès, decided to grant the request of the lawyers of Salah Abdeslam, who had been declared “fit” to appear by a first doctor , despite the absence of a negative test.
The hearing will resume Tuesday, “subject” to the result of the second opinion entrusted to two doctors, responsible for submitting their report “no later than January 10”.
The main defendant in the November 13 trial was present at the hearing for the first time since November 25.
Two medical examinations carried out on Monday and Wednesday at the request of the court concluded that the only surviving member of the jihadist commandos who killed 130 people in Paris and Saint-Denis on November 13, 2015 was “fit” to appear.
But, for the defense of Salah Abdeslam and several lawyers for the civil parties, these two expertises do not settle anything.
The first expert report conditioned the resumption of the hearing on the “negativity” of the PCR test of Salah Abdeslam.
– Contagiosité –
The second report, carried out by the same doctor, still considers that Mr. Abdeslam is “fit” to appear but notes that he is still positive even if it is “in a very weak capacity”.
During the debates Thursday, many lawyers worried about the contagiousness of Salah Abdeslam, and the risk of creating a “cluster” within the Assize Court, without window, where the defendants are seated at less than a meter one another.
The first two tests “are a total humbug,” said Mr. Martin Vettes, one of Salah Abdeslam’s lawyers, “forty-eight hours apart, the expert says everything and its opposite”.
“The purpose of this trial is not to keep a hearing schedule but to try the accused fairly, so that they are able to defend themselves as best they can. This is not the case today for Mr. Abdeslam “, insisted Mr. Vettes.
Salah Abdeslam, who refused to be vaccinated “for personal reasons”, tested positive for Covid-19 on December 27, while the trial was suspended.
“Mr. Abdeslam’s affection does not seem deadly or difficult to live with,” said Jean Reinhart, a lawyer for the civil parties.
As the lawyer continues on the advantages of vaccination, one of the defendants interrupts him: “whether we are vaccinated or not, it’s none of your business!”
– “Shift the audience” –
On the benches of the civil parties, all the lawyers do not share the conviction of Me Reinhart. “There is someone in the box who is positive”, recalls Me Matthieu Chirez before being alarmed by possible “cascading contaminations”.
Advocate General Camille Hennetier is annoyed. “There is no risk (of contamination) because his ten days of isolation have largely expired. We are at D + 15 of the onset of symptoms,” she said, categorically rejecting the request for a second opinion. .
“To make the resumption of the hearing conditional on a negative PCR from Salah Abdeslam would amount to taking the risk of postponing the trial for several weeks,” she warned.
Following her, Me Marie Violleau, one of the defense lawyers, underlines: “I believe that postponing this hearing by a few days to preserve everyone’s health is not unimaginable”.
“Any of us can be seriously affected by this disease. If someone coughs a little too hard, I walk away, I have my freedom, even not to come. These men (in the box) have no freedom, “also maintains Me Christian Saint-Palais.
At the end of nearly four months of hearing, the trial must enter a new phase, that of the interrogation on the merits of the file of the 14 defendants present (six others, therefore five presumed dead, are tried in their absence).
In the event of a resumption on Tuesday, the first to be questioned by the court will be Mohamed Abrini, childhood friend of Salah Abdeslam.