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Nice attack trial: first words of the defendants expected

Monday, the first day of hearing, which is held in the room specially built for the trial of the attacks of November 13, 2015, had been largely devoted to the enumeration of the people wishing to constitute a civil party.

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Nice attack trial: first words of the defendants expected

Monday, the first day of hearing, which is held in the room specially built for the trial of the attacks of November 13, 2015, had been largely devoted to the enumeration of the people wishing to constitute a civil party.

While they had been only 865 to take this step before the opening of the trial, out of approximately 2,500 people recognized as victims and compensated, this number was approximately 1,700 Monday evening at the suspension of the hearing, indicated the National Anti-Terrorist Prosecutor's Office (Pnat) to AFP.

Tuesday morning, the hearing continued with the call of witnesses and experts called to testify during the trial.

Among them, former President François Hollande and his Minister of the Interior at the time Bernard Cazeneuve should be heard on October 10.

The same day is expected François Molins, Attorney General at the Court of Cassation, who was at the time of the events Paris prosecutor, then in charge of investigations into the terrorist attacks.

Several specialists in trauma and memory were also cited at the bar, such as child psychiatrist Thierry Baubet and neuropsychologist Francis Eustache, expected on September 15.

Five weeks will also be devoted to the speech of the civil parties. 240 of them planned to testify at the bar and others announced their intention via their lawyer.

If the court will show a "certain flexibility", it "will not be able to hear 500 or 600", warned Monday the president of the Special Assize Court Laurent Raviot, calling on the lawyers to "make choices".

- "Put faces to these names" -

After the call of the witnesses, Mr. Raviot must deliver an "introductory remarks" before, at the beginning of the afternoon, to expose the facts and summarize the investigation, an exercise planned to last two to three hours.

The seven defendants present will then take the floor at the end of the day for their "prior statement".

Monday, they had only declined their identity and their address, at the invitation of the president.

"We can't wait to put faces to these names (...) whose stories we have read," Stéphane Erbs, co-president of the Promenade des Anges victims' association, told AFP on Monday.

However, "impatience" to attend the trial was mixed with "a certain nervousness", confided this Lyonnais, who lost his wife in the attack and intends to go back and forth to Paris to attend the trial as soon as his job allows him to.

Three defendants are in the box, Ramzi Arefa, Chokri Chafroud (in pre-trial detention) and Artan Henaj (convicted in another case). Four - Maksim Celaj, Endri Elezi, Mohamed Ghraieb and Enkeledja Zace - appear free under judicial supervision.

The eighth, Brahim Tritrou, detained in Tunisia, will be "tried by default".

86 people lost their lives and more than 450 others were injured in the attack, the deadliest in France after those of November 13, 2015 against the Stade de France, the Bataclan and the terraces of Paris.

The assailant, Mohamed Lahouaiej-Bouhlel, a 31-year-old Tunisian killed by the police on the evening of the attack, is the main absentee from the trial.

This unstable delivery driver was better known for acts of violence, especially against his wife, than for his closeness to the jihadist movement.

But according to the prosecution, he "had taken part in an ideological approach of jihadist inspiration several months before" the attack, without letting anything appear.

The investigation did not establish whether he had benefited from accomplices. If the Islamic State organization claimed responsibility for the attack, no direct link was found between Mohamed Lahouaiej-Bouhlel and the jihadist group.

Three defendants (Ramzi Arefa, Chokri Chafroud and Mohamed Ghraieb) are being prosecuted for criminal association with terrorism. The prosecution underlines their "very close proximity" with Mohamed Lahouaiej-Bouhlel and believes that they were "fully aware" of his adherence "to the ideology of armed jihad" and "his fascination for violent acts. ".

The five other defendants are prosecuted for common law offenses - criminal association and offenses against the legislation on weapons.

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