At the November 13 trial, the powerful argument of Salah Abdeslam’s lawyers against a “slow death penalty”

“This trial must not be a continuation of the war against terrorism by other means. The prosecution asks you to permanently neutralize an enemy by condemning him to a social death sentence. You are basically being asked to punish Salah Abdeslam commensurate with the suffering of the victims. It’s called the law of retaliation, in a modern and revisited version. It seems that the purpose of punishment is to make the one who punishes better. So, when you reflect on your decision, I ask you to make the effort to ask yourself this question: will the sentence you are about to impose make us better off? »

It is on this mirror hung at court that Mrs.e Martin Vettes returned to the defense benches on Friday June 24, under the gaze of his client who, from the glass box of the defendants, did not take his eyes off him during the two hours of his argument. The frail silhouette of her colleague, Me Olivia Ronen, in turn, approaches the bar to bring the immense burden weighing on these two young 32-year-old lawyers: to try to avoid Salah Abdeslam, who is the same age as them, criminal imprisonment incompressible life required by the prosecution.

The two weeks of pleadings in the trial of the November 13 attacks ended, before a verdict scheduled for Wednesday, June 29, with a powerful two-voice charge against “real life”. This “slow death penalty”in the words of M.e Ronen, which dims any hope of release, has been pronounced only four times against perpetrators of violent crimes against minors. Salah Abdeslam has never killed anyone directly: he is the defaulting member and the only survivor of the commandos who killed 130 people on November 13, 2015.

Mᵉ Martin Vettes, one of Salah Abdeslam's lawyers, at the special assize court in Paris, June 24, 2022.

“A legal fiction »

If Salah Abdeslam incurs this extremely rare sentence, it is because he is considered to be a “co-perpetrator” of the attempted murder against police officers committed by the three Bataclan terrorists, the only offense justifying in this case the heaviest sanction of the code. penal. Salah Abdeslam has never been to the Bataclan, nor has he shot at the police. He even claims to have given up killing that evening. A “burst of consciousness” which justifies, in the eyes of his lawyer, to leave him a hope of going out one day.

Read also: Article reserved for our subscribers At the November 13 trial, Salah Abdeslam reveals for the first time his truth about the night of the attacks

But for the prosecution, it doesn’t matter whether Salah Abdeslam was at the Bataclan or whether he gave up trying to blow himself up. According to his legal reading of the facts, all the targets of these attacks constitute a single crime scene, for which the accused is fully responsible in “coaction” with the other attackers. A “legal fiction”criticizes Me Ronen, who summarizes this reasoning with a formula “We know you weren’t there, but we’re going to condemn you as if you were there. »

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