The Bataclan survivors hoping for justice

A trial of unprecedented scale starts on Wednesday (September 8) to judge 20 men suspected of involvement in a jihadist rampage across Paris in November 2015 - the deadliest attack in peacetime France.

Some 130 people were killed and hundreds were wounded when gunmen with suicide vests attacked six bars and restaurants as well as the Bataclan concert hall and a sports stadium.

For the victims and the families of those who died in the attacks, the long-awaited trial of the suspects brings both relief and anxiety.

History teacher Christophe Naudin survived the attack on the Bataclan. He says the memory of that night is still raw.

"The memory that has hardly been erased is the chain of events. In the beginning, I was at a concert with my two friends, and then I was in the middle of the crowd. Behind me, I heard noises like firecrackers and I realized upon turning around that I was looking at a shooter. And then I turned again towards the stage and I saw people lying down or crouching, and I was pushed forward. I don't know if it was the heat of the moment or if someone pushed me, but in any case I moved towards the front, towards the stage. I told myself, 'I must go towards the stage.' It was very automatic."

Naudin is hopeful that the trial will bring justice for the victims of the attack.

"What matters to me is what the victims, civil parties, their parents and loved ones will say. So that people truly understand, beyond what media have been able to cover, in the framework of a trial. This is important for everyone."

Jerome Bartelemy, also a Bataclan survivor, is not attending the trial for fear it could stir up painful memories.

"I'm doing okay now, things are behind me, it's starting to go away. The trial kind of brings back the memories. The year following the Bataclan attack, I was fine, I was even feeling wonderful because I felt I had survived it, so I was feeling great in my life. But in 2017, 2018, I had what many call a post-traumatic stress disorder. I was very, very anxious, I wasn't feeling great at all, I had to be in therapy, I went into depression and I was suffering anxiety constantly, for nothing."

Relatives of the victims say the trial will be important in bringing them closure.

Philippe Duperron who is president of a victim's association lost his son, 30-year-old Thomas in the attack. He says it is his duty to attend the trial.

"The attackers wanted to take us down. Well, we are still standing. Those who are still here to stand witness will tell them that they continue to live no matter what happened to them. For us parents, for those who are in grief, we will be the voice for those who are no longer here to give witness. It's our role, it's my role as president of the association 13onze15, to be the voice, and in a certain way, to memorialize those who are no longer here."

The Nov. 2015 attacks, which were followed by other, less deadly ones, over the past few years, have left deep scars on the nation's psyche.

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