PARIS (AP) — In a custom-built secure complex embedded within a 13th-century courthouse, France on Wednesday opened the trial of 20 men accused in the Islamic State group’s 2015 attacks in Paris that left 130 people dead and hundreds injured.
Nine gunmen and suicide bombers struck within minutes of each other at France’s national soccer stadium, the Bataclan concert hall and Paris restaurants and cafes on Nov. 13, 2015. Survivors of the attacks as well as those who mourn their dead packed the rooms, which were designed to hold 1,800 plaintiffs and over 300 lawyers.
The lone survivor of the extremist cell from that night, Salah Abdeslam, is the key defendant. Abdeslam, whose brother was among the suicide bombers that night, appeared wearing a black short-sleeved shirt and black trousers, his long hair tied back.
He was the first asked to identify himself and, after intoning a prayer, requested to state his profession, declared he was “a fighter for Islamic State.”
Abdeslam is the only one charged with murder. The same IS network went on to strike Brussels months later, killing another 32 people.