A writer in the courtroom

At the start, it was like a leap into the unknown. Nine months following a trial for history. ” A crossing “writes Emmanuel Carrère, who just a year ago boarded the “V13”. A letter and two numbers to designate the trial held before the special assize court of Paris following the attacks of Friday, November 13, 2015, in Saint-Denis and in the capital. Nine months of a hearing that the author of landmark works, such as The Opponent, Other lives than mine Where The kingdom, followed for The Obsin which he published a column every week.

It is these chronicles, slightly retouched, which are presented in V13, with some additional chapters. A “crossing” in which Emmanuel Carrère, we feel, has fully invested himself. “It started four days ago, we feel like it’s been a month”, he confides at the end of the first week of the civil parties. About fifteen testimonies every day and as many stories of existences, of lives shattered by the Kalashnikovs of the terrorists. “The rest of life slips away. A dinner with friends becomes completely irrelevant »adds the writer, seized by “amazing intensity” words of misfortune in the courtroom. And Emmanuel Carrère does not hide his empathy, nor his admiration for these victims. Of the “hero” to his eyes. “Because of the courage it took them to rebuild themselves, of their way of inhabiting this experience, of the power of the bond that binds them to the dead and the living. »

Civil parties also in search of meaning and justice. For example, the author relays the testimony of Alice and Aristide, a sister and a brother, both seriously injured on the terrace of Petit Cambodge. “I tried to understand what makes young people decide to shoot other young people. I don’t understand, maybe there’s nothing to understand”said Aristide at the bar, while adding to be ” happy “ that the accused “can be heard”. Glad this trial is happening. “I think that my generation and the one that is coming, we have a great need to believe in justice”adds the young man, straight on two legs facing the court. “We watch them, Alice and him. That they speak to us is already justice”considers Emmanuel Carrère.

These chronicles also accurately restore what this long-term trial was like. This alternation of moments of incredible emotional strength and these days of weariness or disappointment in the face of the silence of certain defendants or the fleeting words of certain investigators. This telescoping, at the end of the course, between strong and brilliant pleadings and more dull and academic interventions. The lot of every criminal trial, of course. But the strength of this hearing will have been to instill doubt on the charges against certain defendants. To bring out the nuance. To individualize the looks on these men who did not all do the same thing before and during this evening of November 13. “My intimate conviction is floating, undecided”admits Emmanuel Carrère, torn between the sledgehammer indictment of the three magistrates of the national anti-terrorism prosecution and the often terribly convincing response of defense lawyers.

Emmanuel Carrère did not know, on boarding the “liner V13”, if he would want to get off along the way. Once the trial began, not for a moment did he consider this possibility. “I knew that we were going through, together, something quite different from a virtuous thing for History, the pharaonic and vain judicial happening that we had good reason to fear at the beginning. Something completely different: a unique experience of dread, pity, closeness and presence. »


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