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BATACLAN

Bataclan to reopen with gig by British rock star Sting

British rock star Sting will re-open Paris' Bataclan concert hall on November 12, a day before the anniversary of the jihadist attacks that left 90 people dead there, the venue's owner said Friday.

Bataclan to reopen with gig by British rock star Sting
Photo: AFP

The former frontman of The Police confirmed the announcement by Lagardere Unlimited Live Entertainment, saying in a statement on his website: “In re-opening the Bataclan, we have two important tasks to reconcile.

“First, to remember and honour those who lost their lives in the attack a year ago, and second to celebrate the life and the music that this historic theatre represents.”

“In doing so we hope to respect the memory as well as the life affirming spirit of those who fell. We shall not forget them.”

All revenues from the show will be donated to two charities working with victims of the Paris attacks, the statement added.

The Bataclan was one of several Paris locations targeted on the night of November 13, 2015 when Islamic State gunmen suicide bombers also attacked bars, restaurants and the national stadium, killing a total of 130 people.

British singer Pete Doherty and the Senegalese star Youssou N'Dour and his Super Etoile de Dakar band will also play the venue on November 16th and 18th respectively.

The Bataclan has been undergoing extensive renovations since the attack and last week the new facade was revealed to the public.

In a statement released earlier this year venue bosses said that the renovation of the Bataclan would “involve renewing the infrastructure and facilities of the venue, without changing the layout.

“We will try and preserve its warmth and friendliness. We want to maintain the popular and festive spirit that it has always had.”

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TERRORISM

Historic trial begins in Paris over November 2015 terror attacks

The biggest trial in France's modern legal history begins on Wednesday over the November 2015 attacks on Paris that saw 130 people killed at bars, restaurants, the Stade de France and the Bataclan concert hall.

Historic trial begins in Paris over November 2015 terror attacks
A memorial to the 130 victims of the November 13th attacks in Paris. Photo: Thomas Coex/AFP

The suicide bombing and gun assault by three teams of jihadists, planned from Syria and later claimed by the Islamic State group, was France’s worst post-war atrocity.

The only surviving attacker, Salah Abdeslam, will be in the dock at the purpose-built facility at the historic court of justice on the Île de la Cité in central Paris, along with 13 other defendants.

Six others are being tried in absentia. Twelve of the 20 people on trial, including Abdeslam, face life sentences if convicted.

“We are entering the unknown,” said Arthur Denouveaux, a survivor of the Bataclan music venue attack and president of Life for Paris, a victims’ association. “We can’t wait for it to start, but we’re asking, How will it be for the next nine months?”

The trial will last until May 2022, with 145 days for hearings involving about 330 lawyers, 300 victims and former president François Hollande, who will testify in November.

The case file runs to a million pages in 542 volumes, measuring 53 metres across.

Justice Minister Eric Dupond-Moretti this week described the trial as “historic” and “one of all superlatives” as he inspected the courtroom.

Surviving gunman Abdeslam, now 31, who was born in Belgium but has French and Moroccan nationality, fled the scene of the carnage after abandoning his suicide belt, which investigators later found to be defective.

He was captured four months later in Brussels, hiding in a building close to his family home.

Abdeslam has resolutely refused to cooperate with the French investigation and remained largely silent throughout a separate trial in Belgium in 2018, where he declared only that he put his “trust in Allah” and that the court was biased.

A major question is whether he will speak at his scheduled testimony, set for mid-January.

Another focus of the trial will be on how the squad of killers managed to enter France undetected, allegedly using the flow of migrants from Islamic State-controlled regions of Syria as cover.

Fourteen of the accused – who face charges ranging from providing logistical support to planning the attacks as well as weapons offences – are expected to be present in court.

They include a Swedish national, Osama Krayem, who Belgian investigators have identified as one of the killers of a Jordanian pilot burned alive in a cage by Isis in early 2015 in Syria. He is also under investigation in Sweden for war crimes.

The alleged coordinator, Belgian national Abdelhamid Abaaoud, was killed by French police northeast of Paris five days after the attacks.

Of the six tried in absentia, five are presumed dead, mainly in air strikes in Syria.

The horror was unleashed late on the night of Friday, November 13th, when jihadists detonated suicide belts outside the Stade de France stadium where Hollande was in the crowd watching France play a football match against Germany. One man was killed there.

A group of Islamist gunmen, including Abdeslam’s brother Brahim, later opened fire from a car on half a dozen restaurants in the trendy 10th and 11th Arrondissements of the capital, which were packed with people on the balmy autumn evening.

The massacre culminated at the Bataclan music venue. Three jihadists stormed in during a performance, killing a total of 90 people.

While the trial’s initial phase will be devoted to procedural issues, testimonies are expected to begin on September 28th from some 300 survivors and relatives of victims for five weeks of harrowing statements.

Security forces will be on high alert.

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