This defendant is a real pressure cooker. And in the courtroom, everyone knows that the pressure can mount damn quickly when Enkeledja Zace starts talking. “Madam, please lower your voice! », never stops repeating, this Friday, November 18, the first assessor Emmanuelle Bessone. “There are questions that, ultimately, I’m not going to ask you. It’s going to piss you off and it won’t do anything,” sighs Advocate General Jean-Michel Bourlès. Even his lawyer eventually agrees. “It’s true that you climb the towers quickly! »launches Me Joseph Hazan.
Enkeledja Zace is 48 years old, she is Albanian, mother of three children. And she’s not a terrorist. However, it has been two months since she appeared in this trial of the Nice attack. And that’s what makes this audience so special. The eight defendants (1) are not all in the same boat here, at least in the eyes of the prosecution. Three of them are prosecuted for association of terrorist criminals (AMT). These are people who knew Mohamed Lahouaiej-Bouhlel, the author of the attack who, on July 14, 2016, killed 86 people on the Promenade des Anglais.
A pistol used by the terrorist
It was with his truck that, that evening, the terrorist sowed death. But before being killed by the police, he fired several times with a pistol, without causing any injuries. And it is this weapon that led to the prosecution of the five other defendants. For simple criminal association, its terrorist character having been abandoned during the investigation. Justice accuses these five people of having participated in arms trafficking but without ever having known that they could be used for an attack.
Second class defendants, four of whom are of Albanian nationality. Thursday, the court first heard Artan Henaj who admits having sold a pistol and an old Kalashnikov to Ramzi Arefa. This Franco-Tunisian is one of the three defendants tried for AMT because it was he who gave the gun to the terrorist. He was also the one who stashed the Kalashnikov in his cellar, which was therefore not used in the attack.
An arms traffic in which justice suspects Enkeledja Zace of having taken part. With strong arguments. At the time, the forties lived with Artan Henaj with whom she was in a civil partnership. A funny couple. Monsieur was involved in cocaine trafficking and, according to several testimonies, Madame helped him sell the goods. Which she vehemently denies. “I have never sold drugs”, says Enkeledja Zace, presenting herself as a simple consumer. “Sometimes, in the evening, we collected 1 or 2 grams and we made a small line”.
But it is above all on the “weapons” aspect that the court wishes to hear the accused. Both Artan Henaj and Ramzy Arefa claim that she was indeed present during the sale of the gun, two days before the attack. And that she even participated in the transaction, serving as an interpreter between the two men. She would also have packed the weapon and received 100 € commission, like her companion. “In this transaction, the buyer and the seller are saying the same thing. So I’m asking you the question: did you participate in this arms trafficking? », asks the first assessor. ” Nope “replies Enkeledja Zace, who has been denying it for six years with the same tenacity.
A broken life
This annoys the court which returns to the charge several times. Without success. The questions are shattered on the denials of this accused-volcano impossible to channel. But behind the outbursts of Enkeledja Zace, it is also a largely dented life that is told to the audience. Childhood in Tirana, a worker father, a mother employed in textiles. And it is with their agreement that Enkeledja left Albania at the age of 16 for Germany.
There, she finishes her schooling then meets a man with whom she settles in the east of France. After the birth of their daughter, her companion leaves her and goes to Canada without ever giving any news. The beginning of a chaotic life between jobs as a cleaner, unemployment, the RSA, a few crimes, an occasional recourse to prostitution. And meetings with men who, she says, have always been violent with her.
With one of them, however, she will have two other children, still minors today but whom she has not seen since her indictment after the attack. And it is through the words of Enkeledja Zace that we understand how heavy it is for these second-class defendants to appear in this trial. Because it’s very difficult to peel off the label “terrorism” that justice stuck to your forehead for a time.
According to Me Hazan, it is this label that dissuaded all those close to Enkeledja Zace from coming to testify at the hearing. Even her eldest daughter, whom she is still close to. “It’s difficult to come to a trial in which your mother is accused of terrorism”, said Enkeledja Zace. “But you are no longer accused of terrorism”, his lawyer told him. “Yes, but it’s very complicated to explain”, replies his client with a calm and gentleness, strangely unusual in this fiery audience.