Day 1 of the Paris Terror Attacks Trial: "I need Salah Abdeslam to talk"
Anne-Sophie de Chaisemartin, a witness to the 2015 Paris attacks, a former France 24 Production Coordinator and current Production Director for Altice Group, joins France 24 for Special Edition coverage of the Paris Terror Attacks Trial. As the attacks were unfolding, Ms. Chaisemartin happened to be with friends close to one of the bars targeted that November night - La Belle Équipe. "We suddenly hear very loud noises - a first one, a second one, a third one. So we start getting closer to the scene. We witness all of those people lying down." She was immediately forced into a "fight-flight-or-freeze response" and never gave it a second thought. Rather than take cover, she continued to survey the scene of one of the November 13th terrorist attacks. Amid all of the carnage, Ms. Chaisemartin remembers vividly, "this crazy silence around us because we were the first ones on the scene: civilians, neighbors, shopkeepers... and as soon as I realize that my friends, my family are safe, I discover something that was very unexpected inside of me. I remember that I was trained for that, actually at France 24." She was able to use the first aid skills she had acquired as a France 24 Field Producer to help the injured. "And I think, 'you have to help them, you have to save those people, you have to do something. So I start acting like a machine and I start helping everyone that I could." She tended to the multiple bullet wounds and chest wounds, and tried to "save as many as you can... and it became the obsession of that night: 'save them all, save everyone... of course, I couldn't." And so she was forced to face the grim reality of France's deadliest attack since World War II. It took Ms. Chaisemartin six years to realize that she was also a victim of this horrific attack. "Even a first-responder or a civilian, like myself, who was at the wrong place, at the wrong time, was also a victim." Six years on, Ms. Chaisemartin is still "feeling confused. What happened that night came back a few weeks ago." And so, as today marks Day 1 of the biggest trial in French history, "today is a very difficult day." For the past six years, Ms. Chaisemartin has kept all of her memories of November 13th in a box: "the smell of death, the horror, the screaming" and she simply "carried on" and fully embraced every aspect of her life. "I'm a very happy woman, I'm very active, I love what I do, I love my wife, I love my family." Having said that, Ms. Chaisemartin must now come face to face with the way this event has impacted her entire existence, meaning she no longer has the luxury of keeping the memories of that fateful night buried in a box. "Today this box is coming back,'' explains Ms. Chaisemartin. "I have to take it out, I have to look at it and I'm facing it all again. So, I realize today that I need some answers. I need Salah Abdeslam to talk."