“Who killed who?” Was there a pause between shots? Executions at close range? At trial of the attacks of November 13, 2015, the investigator who came to detail his findings on Monday at the bar La Bellequipe was bombarded with questions about the shooting, often without being able to answer them.
“I apologize if my words may seem cold or dehumanized, it’s the professional language that does that”, immediately warns the investigator of the Versailles Criminal Brigade, who came to lend a hand to the Parisian services on the evening of attacks. His style clashes with that of his colleagues, who struggled last week to contain their emotion by recounting their work after the attacks on the Bataclan and other terraces.
When his team arrives in front of the establishment where 21 people were killed, “there is a kind of silence which denotes the violence of the facts, it’s a little confusing”, said this bearded man in a black suit, in his thirties, who testifies anonymously. The policeman begins by showing a video filmed by a local resident. We see two of the three attackers next to their car, firing in a burst and piecemeal. The terrace is not in the field. The jihadists shout “Allah Akbar” and get back into their vehicle.
Abdeslam annoys the president
Later in the afternoon, Salah Abdeslam will ask for the floor. “If we take (the videos) out of context, I’m the first to disapprove of them,” he says. “But if we put them in their context, I cannot condemn them”. President Jean-Louis Périès deplores “a part of provocation”, gets annoyed. After the video, the investigator showed the consequences of the shooting in a photo: a dozen bodies covered with colored sheets at the foot of the tables. In the courtroom, sobs erupted.
On the screen then appears a diagram of the position of the 13 bodies, identified by the letters A to M. Six other customers died in an improvised medical station in a nearby bar, two others in the hospital. For each victim, the police officer details the injuries “very heavy due to the massive crash of the Kalashnikovs on the bodies”. One “discovered on the back, injured in the neck, collarbone, abdomen and chest”, the other “in gun dog, injured at least four wounds”. And he continues in the same neutral tone, body by body.
A victim’s family lawyer comes forward. “It is the letter K,” he explains. “From the findings do you think it is possible to determine who is the person who shot Anne-Laure Arruebo? The investigator seems confused, hesitates. Considering the “volume” fired, 163 shots in “one to two minutes”, the configuration of the premises … “it seems to me rather improbable to determine the author of the fatal shot, if any. only one ”.
The lawyer insists. “Has this work of reconstruction, + who killed who +, been carried out? “” It’s an exercise that is done for blood crimes, but here we are on a terrorist attack. If we had been asked, to be frank… I think it would have been impossible ”.
“It was shots from very close to a minimum”
Another question. “Anne-Laure Arruebo was still sitting in her chair. Can we deduce that she died instantly? The investigator still hesitates, he is “not a forensic pathologist”. “This is the hypothesis that I would favor”. The president intervenes, recalls that experts will also come to testify. In the case of the young woman, he takes over the file. “Direct and immediate death by cranial-cerebral trauma”.
Questions from civil party lawyers continue. Where were the six people whose bodies were moved? Why has no one investigated this suspicious individual who had hung around the area a month before? Were there pauses between sets of shots? Executions at close range?
The investigator responds as best he can. Ammunition cases were found on the terrace. “It shows that at one point, one, two or all three terrorists approached the terrace. Was it point blank? I do not know if the medical expertise could tell. But it was shots from very close to a minimum ”. “Our work really stops at the scene,” continues the investigator. “We collect clues, testimonies,” he said at last, as if to apologize for not being able to provide more answers. “We are crime scene managers.”