Bataclan victims’ families seek answers from Paris attack judges

François Guillot / AFP | Survivors and the family members of victims of the attack on the Bataclan music venue in Paris on November 13 arrive at the École Militaire in the French capital on Wednesday May 25, 2016.

Survivors and families of those killed at the Bataclan music venue during the November 13 Paris terror attacks met with judges on Wednesday, with many still looking for answers as to exactly what happened to their loved ones six months on.


It was the second day in what is a gruelling three-day process that will see around 1,000 people get a chance to hear from the judges heading the investigation into the attacks and ask them any questions they may have.

Tuesday saw judges meet with survivors and the families of those killed near the Stade de France sporting arena and outside Paris restaurants and cafés. On Wednesday it was the turn of those who lost loved ones at or lived through the assault on the Bataclan in which gunmen killed 89 people during a more than two-hour siege.

‘We want to understand what happened’

While the meeting was a chance for victims’ families to find out key information about what happened that night and how the investigation is progressing, it was also set to be a highly emotional and at times difficult encounter.

“I’m waiting to hear details that I don’t want to hear,” one of the attendees, Anne-Cécile Dupuis, told AFP as she arrived for the session at the École Militaire in Paris.

Others were more eager to hear every piece of information available.

“We want to understand what happened. And the soundtrack at the Bataclan that continued to be recorded for two hours [after the attack began] will tell us more. We will be able to hear the gunshots,” survivor Grégoire Philonenko, told FRANCE 24.

As well as providing details of the attack, the judges will have the difficult task of explaining the developments in the vast and complex investigation into the attacks, which has seen dozens of arrests and traversed international borders.

Some have been left frustrated by the slow pace of the investigation and the lack of information about how the probe is progressing.

For most, it will be the first opportunity to meet the judges since the attacks took place six months ago.

“The families have lots of questions for the judges. Some say they feel abandoned and left in the dark by the justice system. They don’t know what’s going on. Today is the day for them to ask their questions,” reported FRANCE 24’s Claire Williams from outside the École Militaire.

“They want to know what happened in that siege. That siege lasted for more than two hours. They want to know when and why and how the police decided to go in and confront the gunmen. They want to details as to what happened on that night.”

The judges will also be tasked with explaining the complicated legal procedures surrounding the investigation – which include distributing financial compensations and revealing victims' autopsies.

‘An extraordinarily intense, emotional and difficult day’

Abdeslam’s silence

Yesterday’s question and answer session went on for more than three hours.
Afterwards, family members told FRANCE 24 that the experience had been a positive one.

“We spoke to quite a few family members as they were leaving in the evening and they said they felt relieved, they said they felt better informed that they had been able to ask the questions they wanted to ask,” Williams reported.

However, an added source of frustration for grieving families has been the silence of Salah Abdeslam, the last surviving Paris attacker, who refused to answer questions in his first interview with a French anti-terror judge on Friday.

“There was one moment that was very important in my eyes [during Tuesday’s session],” Samia Maktouf, one of the lawyers representing the families, told FRANCE 24. “It was when it was explained that during Adedslam’s hearing the judge decided to give the names of the 130 terror attack victims.

“The names were read aloud and unfortunately there was no reaction from Abdeslam, because no human reaction can be expected from him.”

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