Anguish and despair were expressed at the assault trial on Thursday in response to a video showing how an Islamist fanatic drove his vehicle into a crowd in Nice, killing 86 people as France was enjoying its national day.
In 2016, thousands of locals and visitors were enjoying July 14 or Bastille Day at the Promenade des Anglais when Tunisian Mohamed Lahouaiej-Bouhlel, 31, went on a four-minute rampage and was shot and killed by police.
The never-before-seen video was introduced as proof at the trial of eight individuals who were allegedly involved with Lahouaiej-Bouhlel or had knowledge of his plans.
The horrified witnesses and survivors watched as the screen filled with images of people being run over by the crisscrossing vehicle, their bodies smashed and crushed under its wheels.
The courtroom had been forewarned by presiding judge Laurent Raviot that the bystander’s videotaped photos were “terrifying.”
The courtroom experienced a sharp intake of breath as the lights were darkened for the screening, which was shortly followed by several shouts of agony.
A 79-year-old woman named Veronique Marchand yelled and stormed out of the room after her husband was killed in the attack. Through the locked doors, her cries could still be heard coming from the corridor.
During the moment when the killer’s truck was shown swerving from side to side to run over as many people as possible, another woman, one of the plaintiffs, also left the room after sobbing uncontrollably.
In another scenario, a jazz band is finishing up their concert when a truck plows into the cheering crowd from behind. The audience was fully ignorant of the life-threatening situation until it was too late.
After the lights went up and shocked and saddened faces emerged, Jean-Claude Hubler, head of the “Life for Nice” survivors’ association, stated, “I now think that I shouldn’t have watched this.”
Another man said, “It’s terrible to watch, but this is what happened.
The judge mandated that all laptops and smartphones, including those of reporters, be turned off throughout the viewing.
Firefighters, police, and seven psychiatrists were on hand to help anyone in a stressful situation.
While some of the defendants gazed downward, others viewed the massacre images.
After the viewing, the tape was promptly resealed as evidence and is not to be shown again.
The seven men and one woman on trial in Paris are charged with offenses ranging from knowing the murderer’s plans to helping with logistics and supplying weapons.
Ramzi Kevin Arefa is the only suspect who might be sentenced to life in prison if found guilty as a repeat offender. The other people might spend five to twenty years in prison.
The trial, which will continue until December 16, is the most recent court proceeding over the spate of Islamic attacks that have hit France since 2015.