The trial of the November 13 attacks is coming to an end.
The fourteen defendants present before the special assize court in Paris have a last opportunity to speak on Monday before the professional judges begin their deliberations and deliver their verdict, expected on Wednesday evening.
The final hearing of this river trial started in September, the longest in post-war French criminal judicial history, is due to start at 9:30 a.m.
As provided by law, each accused will be invited to speak by President Jean-Louis Périès.
Almost silent during the investigation, Salah Abdeslam, the only member still alive of the commandos who caused the death of 130 people in Paris and Saint-Denis on November 13, 2015, on the other hand spoke a lot during the hearing.
Abdeslam between arrogance and compassion
The 32-year-old Frenchman was ambivalent, oscillating between arrogance when he proclaimed himself an "Islamic State fighter" on the first day of the hearing and compassion when he presented, with tears streaming down his cheeks, his "condolences and (his) apologies to all the victims”.
He explained that he had given up using his explosive belt in a bar in the 18th arrondissement of Paris out of "humanity".
“Whatever people say, this trial would not have been the same at all if Salah Abdeslam had remained silent.
There would have been a deep feeling of failure if that had been the case, ”said his lawyer Martin Vettes on Friday during the final pleadings.
Not convinced by Salah Abdeslam's "balancing act" who systematically sought to "minimize the facts", the National Anti-Terrorist Prosecutor's Office (Pnat) requested incompressible life imprisonment against him, the heaviest sanction allowed by French law, which makes the possibility of release very small.
For his lawyer, Abrini "never ceased to doubt"
Another defendant against whom life was requested, with a security period of 22 years, Mohamed Abrini, childhood friend of Salah Abdeslam.
He also spoke a lot during the hearing, acknowledging that he was "scheduled for November 13", but he remained stingy with explanations of his renunciation.
Monday's hearing is the last opportunity to clarify his role.
"He never ceased to doubt," said his lawyer Marie Violleau last week.
Three other defendants against whom the Pnat requested life imprisonment – Osama Krayem, Sofien Ayari and Mohamed Bakkali – preferred to remain silent during the proceedings.
The floor will also be given to the nine other defendants appearing before the court since September 8 and against whom sentences ranging from five years' imprisonment to twenty years' imprisonment have been requested.
In addition to these fourteen men, the court judges six people by default, therefore five presumed dead in the Iraqi-Syrian zone.
At the trial of November 13, the defense of Salah Abdeslam closes two weeks of pleadings
November 13 attacks: Abdeslam's lawyers urge court to drop 'social death penalty'
Attacks of November 13