The trial of 20 people charged over the November 13, 2015 jihadist attacks in Paris that were France's deadliest peacetime atrocity will get underway in late 2021, sources close to the case and prosecutors said on Friday.
The night of carnage on November 13, 2015 saw 130 people killed and 350 wounded when Islamist suicide bombers and gunmen attacked the Stade de France stadium, bars and restaurants in central Paris and the Bataclan concert hall.
The trial in Paris will begin on September 8, 2021 and end in March 2022, lawyers were told at a meeting at the Paris court. National anti-terror prosecutors confirmed the dates to AFP.
Just one of the suspected perpetrators — French-Belgian Salah Abdeslam — will appear in court with the 19 others accused of providing various logistical support. Six of them are targets of arrest warrants and will be tried in absentia.
The other attackers, including the suspected coordinator of the attacks — Belgian Abdelhamid Abaaoud — were killed in the wake of the strikes which were which were claimed by extremists from the Islamic State (IS) group.
The trial will be a massive undertaking, with 110 days of hearings envisaged. It had been expected in January 2021 but was put back due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The announcement of the beginning of the trial comes with the country again on its highest security alert following three attacks in the last months blamed on Islamist radicals.
In September, the trial had got underway of suspected accomplices in the massacre by Islamist gunmen in January 2015 of staff on the Charlie Hebdo satirical weekly, which had published cartoons of the prophet Mohammed.
True to its defiant reputation, the magazine then republished the cartoons to mark the start of the trial.
In the wake of that move, a Pakistan-born man wounded two people with a meat cleaver on September 25 outside Charlie Hebdo’s former offices.
Teacher Samuel Paty, who had shown his class the cartoons, was beheaded outside his school on October 16 by an Islamist radical from Chechnya. And on October 29 a man recently arrived from Tunisia killed three people with a knife in a Nice church.
In the wake of those attacks President Emmanuel Macron presented draft legislation on cracking down on radical Islamist activity and vowed France will never renounce the right to blaspheme, in moves that have drawn anger in some Muslim countries.