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Paris terror trial opened for 20 suspects in the 2015 attacks

Twenty men were accused of plotting coordinated attacks against Paris in 2015. These attacks spread fear throughout Europe and transformed France. The trial began Wednesday in a specially-built complex that is embedded in a 13th century courthouse.

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Paris terror trial opened for 20 suspects in the 2015 attacks

Nine Islamic State group gunmen and suicide bombers struck within minutes of one another at several locations around Paris on Nov. 13, 2015, leaving 130 people dead and hundreds wounded. It was the deadliest violence to strike France since World War II and among the worst terror attacks to hit the West.

The Bataclan concert hall was the scene of the worst carnage. Three men with assault rifles shot down scores of people, and took a few hostages. Others attacked the national soccer stadium where the president was going to a game. They also targeted cafes packed with people on a cool autumn night.

The lone surviving attacker from that night, Salah Abdeslam, is the key defendant -- but he has so far refused to speak to investigators, denying them answers to many of the remaining questions about the attacks and the people who planned them. Abdeslam was wearing a black shirt with a short sleeves and black trousers. His long hair was tied back.

After uttering a prayer, he answered the question "a fighter for Islamic State", after being asked his profession.

Abdeslam is the only suspect charged with murder. He fled the scene of the attack after he abandoned his car and a malfunctioning suicide vest. Other defendants are facing lesser terrorist charges.

Jean-Louis Peries, the presiding judge, acknowledged the remarkable nature of the attacks that changed the security landscape in France and Europe. He also promised to bring the case. France was only able to emerge from the 2017 state of emergency that was declared following the attacks, after having incorporated many of the most severe measures into its law.

He said, "The events we are about to decide" were inscribed in their historical intensity as well as the international and national events.

Dominique Kielemoes, whose son bled to death at one of the cafes, said hearing victims' testimonies at the trial will be crucial to both their own healing and that of the nation.

"The terrorist assassins thought they were shooting into the crowd, into an entire mass. It wasn't a mass, these assassins thought they were firing into a crowd of people. These were people who lived, loved, had hopes, and had expectations. This is something we should talk about at trial. She said that it was important.

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