• The trial of the terrorist attacks of November 13, 2015 opened for nine months, Wednesday September 8, 2021, before the specially composed assize court in Paris.

  • This Thursday, Bertrand Ludes, director of the Forensic Institute (IML) in Paris was heard at the bar and apologized to the families of the victims.

  • Many civil parties deplored the icy reception of the IML and the errors made during the identification operations.

At the specially composed Assize Court in Paris,

This Thursday before the specially composed Assize Court of Paris, two "worlds" faced each other. On the one hand, the cold and surgical universe of the Forensic Institute (IML) and on the other, that devastated by the families of the victims of the attacks of November 13, 2015. The first meeting, which took place the day after the attacks terrorists, had been violent.

A "trauma on the trauma, a pain on the pain," detailed Me Jean Reinhart, lawyer for several civil parties who himself lost his nephew at the Bataclan.

The uncertainty as to the identification of their loved one, the wait to find the bodies of the deceased victims and the time granted to families for this confrontation with the death of their child, their sister or their spouse were for many. civil parties, the source of suffering that is still alive, six years later.

A constrained time

The testimony of Bertrand Ludes, director of the Forensic Institute (IML) was therefore particularly awaited by the families who set foot on this mortuary in the fall of 2015. But the professor, who headed the teams responsible for autopsies, refused to accept any act of contrition. From the outset, he indicates that "the identification of victims is the responsibility of the police". "The bodies were brought with a report which specifies either the identity of the deceased, or a presumed identity or the absence of identity," adds the man in the gray suit and salt and pepper hair. Then he cuts it short: "I will not address this question in my presentation".

At the material time, Bertrand Ludes had two missions, he explains: to find the causes of death and to describe the bodies.

The IML team has six days to carry out all forensic operations: autopsies, scanners, dental or x-ray examinations.

"The first victim arrived on November 14 at 6 am and the last the same day around 10:50 am", continues Professor Ludes.

A total of 123 whole bodies and 17 body fragments were admitted that day.

Constrained by time, the IML teams decide not to systematically carry out autopsies.

If this had been the case, the forensic operations would have lasted between “15 days and 3 weeks” according to the witness.

"I'm sorry and confused"

If the IML benefited from technical and medical reinforcements, the clinical psychologist was alone to assist the families during the presentation of the bodies.

A painful and delicate moment that she would repeat on 156 occasions, in the only dedicated room and where those around them find themselves separated from their loved ones by a bay window.

"It is not a question of putting in the coffin, the bodies are still under judicial seal", justifies the witness.

Me Reinhart attacked: “The families were allowed 5 minutes to view the body.

Does that sound bearable to you?


"If it happened like that, I'm really sorry and confused," finally let go Bertrand Ludes.

"Between the world that is yours and that of families, there is an extremely heavy gap"

Then follow the stories of the violence suffered by several families. "I want to talk about Lamia Mondeguer", intervenes Mehana Mouhou. "The family arrived to see the body on the morning of the 18th, a psychologist said to them: Be prepared not to recognize your Lamia". But when the family arrives, the body presented to them is not that of their daughter. "Can you imagine the shock? »Asks the lawyer. Bertrand Ludes does not flinch, and defends himself: "For me the error comes from the fact that it is a body which arrived with a false identity at the institute, an erroneous identity". Asked about the late sending of autopsy reports - some of which took place several months after the attacks - Me Reinhart is annoyed: "Between the world that is yours and that of families, there is an extremely large gap".

Answers that don't allay anger

Despite the cold and distant tone displayed by the expert, his testimony made it possible to answer fundamental questions for the families of the victims.

How did their loved one die?

Did he die instantly?

Systematically referring to the documents stored in his thick binder, Bertrand Ludes tried to clarify the demands of the civil parties.

The lawyer for the family of Thomas Ayad, reached 5 times at the Bataclan café, questions her: “Thomas Ayad's parents are trying to reconstruct the last moments of their son's life.

Can you elaborate on his last moments?


Methodically, Bertrand Ludes replied: "We noted that there would have been resuscitation operations […] There was damage to the thorax and abdomen, therefore multiple sources of hemorrhage".

Our case file

At the stand, the man also swept aside the theories disseminated after the attacks alleging acts of torture.

The expert is categorical, only gunshot wounds were found on the bodies of the victims.

But these answers were not enough to appease the anger of the civil parties struggling to mask their anger.

Philippe Duperron, president of the 13onze15 association, lost his son Thomas at the Bataclan.

“When Thomas's body was taken to the IML, we were made to wait all day Monday, saying 'You might be able to see it.'

Finally, we were told "You will not be able to see it because the Institute closes at 6 pm".

[…] We would have liked a little word of compassion and empathy that I didn't really hear.



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  • Justice

  • Bataclan

  • Autopsy

  • Trial

  • Daesh

  • Salah Abdeslam

  • Terrorist attacks in Paris

  • Attacks of November 13