Trial of the January 2015 attacks: behind closed doors at Hyper Cacher

Lassana Bathily, ex-employee of Hyper Cacher Porte de Vincennes, September 2, 2020 at the Paris court.

Charles Platiau / Reuters

Text by: RFI Follow

5 mins

At the trial of the January 2015 attacks, the floor was given to survivors close to the victims of the hostage-taking of the Hyper Cacher store.

On January 9, 2015, Amédy Coulibaly killed four people there before being shot.

Tuesday, September 22, the court heard in particular Zarie, cashier of the store and hostage most in contact with the terrorist, as well as Lassana Bathily, employee of the store hailed as a hero after the attack.


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With our special correspondent at the Paris court,

Laura Martel

A little over four hours of horror.

This is what

the hostages of Amédy Coulibaly experienced

on January 9, 2015, when the terrorist broke into the Hyper Cacher store located at Porte de Vincennes, in Paris.

At the trial of those suspected of having participated in the deadly attacks of January 7, 8 and 9, 2015, Zarie spoke on Tuesday September 22.

This young cashier, 22 years old at the time of the facts, was the person most in contact with Coulibaly.

For Zarie, "

out of the question that people forget


Without ever pronouncing his name, the victim recounts this hell under the threat of

Amédy Coulibaly


She recounts the four assassinations she witnessed and said she feels guilty.

That of her colleague Yohan Cohen, who was in front of her when the killer fired his first bullet.

That of Philippe Braham, who was waiting at his cash register.

That of Yoab Hattab, one of the hostages hidden in the basement that the terrorist sent for him.

And that of Michel Saada, whom she could not dissuade from slipping under the curtain of the store that Coulibaly forced her to close.

She herself was sure of dying: " 

As I lowered the curtain, I said to myself that I was burying us all alive

 ", confides the young woman.

It is to her that the terrorist explains having come to die a martyr.

You are the two things I hate most in the world: Jews and French,

 " he told her.

A killer who alternates his life story, political sermons and cruel jokes.


You don't eat, it's free,

 ” he said to the hostages, close to the executives.

And when a little boy vomits and Zarie offers to clean up, the killer replies, “ 

Sure, do the right thing.

Don't say I'm hurting children.


How can you have such an irrational speech, be calm, worry about not hurting children, just after killing people without mercy, as if they were just objects!"

 », She exclaims in a sob in front of the court.

Although Zarie now lives

in Israel

, she insisted on coming and testifying.

Because it is " 

out of the question for people to forget

 ", and because she wants to do everything to get better.

Thus, she says, " 

the terrorist will not have won


Lassana Bathily's lesson in humanity

After the terrible closed-door on January 9,

France discovered Lassana Bathily


This young Malian, who has since become French, wanted to testify to get a message across.

That day, while working in the Hyper Cacher, he hears detonations that he does not identify, then sees twenty panicked people arrive in the basement.

In a calm voice, the ex-employee tells how he opened the door to the cold room and deactivated the engine so that the hostages

could take refuge there.

He then suggested that they try to exit using the freight elevator.

They preferred to stay, while he, fear in his stomach, started.

I said to myself, it goes or it breaks,

 " he recalls.

The young man then returns to his help to the police, once outside: he drew the map of the place and explained how to raise the electric curtain, in order to facilitate the assault on Amédy Coulibaly.

Facing the court, Lassana Bathily also recounts a more unknown episode: this moment when the police first took him for a terrorist, when he escaped from the Hyper Cacher.

Brutally handcuffed, he spent 1.5 hours in a car.


But I understand.

It takes time to identify.

They had seen on the videos a black man come in with a gun, and they saw a black man come out.

They apologized afterwards,

 ”he explains in an even voice.

But what Lassana Bathily wants to say is how deeply he was overwhelmed by the assassination of his colleague, his “brother” Yohan Cohen.

How close the store team was.


We ate together, we teased each other.

We weren't even talking about religion.

I know who they are, they know who I am, there is only respect that counts,

 ”he emphasizes.


The terrorists are trying to divide us.

We need to live together, to know each other,

 ”insists Lassana Bathily.

It is this message, which he now carries in schools, that he came to deliver.


Me, I'm a Muslim, but it's up to me.

We are humans first.

For me, humanity is more important than religion,

 ”he concludes.


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