He was obviously eager to talk. Tuesday for several minutes, Mohamed Ghraieb poured an uninterrupted stream of words, at the bar of the specially composed Assize Court of Paris responsible for judging the Nice attack, which left 86 dead and more than 300 injured on July 14, 2016 “I have nothing to do with what happened,” said the 46-year-old man, one of three defendants to be prosecuted for terrorist criminal association, but the only one to be judged free. , under judicial supervision. “I am a stranger to facts, he added, without always managing to master his words. Neither near nor far. »
On the second day of this trial, which should last until mid-December, the president of the court, Laurent Raviot, allowed the seven defendants present (an eighth is on the run in Tunisia) to express themselves to give their overall position. on the charges against them, and specify their situation at the time of the events. As during the last words before deliberation, the magistrate generally left them free to speak, without interrupting them.
“I don’t know what he had in his head”
What emerged was the overall impression that the defendants were trying to distance themselves from the massacre committed at the wheel of a truck, on the Promenade des Anglais, by Mohamed Lahouaiej-Bouhlel. In any case of its terrorist character, even if it means recognizing common law offenses. “I was an intermediary to sell a gun [retrouvé dans le camion conduit par le terroriste, NDLR] to a person to whom I sold drugs, explains from the box Ramzi Arefa, 44, also prosecuted for terrorist criminal association. This person, I didn’t know her, she wasn’t my friend. I didn’t want to associate with him for anything. »
“Salman [Mohamed Lahouaiej-Bouhlel, NDLR] was a friend. I can’t find the words to describe what he did, continues with an interpreter Chokri Chafroud, 43, also detained. I don’t know what he had in his head. However, I did not help him. »
“No link with terrorism”
The accused members of the Albanian community of Nice, prosecuted for violation of the legislation on weapons and association of criminals without terrorist character, are on the same line. Justice accuses them of having served as intermediaries in the search for weapons of Mohamed Lahouaiej-Bouhlel. Aged 27, Artan Henaj, who appears detained following a conviction for drug trafficking, claims to have “no connection with terrorism”. “I’m really sorry for everything that happened,” he added. His wife, considered free, gets a little lost in her explanations but swears to have “never sold a weapon”. “I have always worked in France, I have never been in prison. I had a business, I lost everything,” she says. On the benches of the civil parties, we feel a wave of disapproval.
“I am really sorry, I regret for the families and the victims, begins another free defendant. I admit my mistake of carrying the weapon [un fusil d’assaut destiné au terroriste, NDLR]. I had no idea of this person’s intentions. “I had to carry something that I shouldn’t have done,” summarizes another Albanian defendant who, in tears, says his “regrets”.
“It was a piece of trash who did this”
But it is the last to speak, Mohamed Ghraieb, who catches the eye with his long monologue. “I am innocent,” he said. The night of the events, I was with the injured, I did it with all my heart. Some bastard did this. I never participated in his project. He broke my life, I will never forgive him. He’s a bastard. »
The defendants will now remain silent for several weeks of hearings. They will not be re-examined until November, during the first interrogations centered on their personality.