France

Nice attack trial: the two bereaved sisters want to “respond to evil with good” – The trial of the 2016 attack in Nice




Before the special assize court, this Wednesday in Paris, a photo of her sister Aldjia Bouzaouit projected in front of her, Seloua Mensi recounts the evening of July 14, 2016. A story similar to that of many victims who have come to the bar since the 20 September, the opening day of the trial. A festive family outing on the Promenade des Anglais to watch the fireworks and eat an ice cream, which turns into horror when the crowd is targeted by a 19-tonne truck. At the wheel, a 31-year-old Nice citizen, of Tunisian nationality, who killed 86 people and injured more than 450, before being shot dead by the police.

“It is indeed the body of Aldjia Bouzaouit which has been identified, according to the DNA of his daughter”

Aldjia, a mother of four born in Sétif, Algeria, and who had lived in Nice since childhood, was among the victims. One of his nephews will be seriously injured and his 9-year-old daughter hit in the knee. His eldest, 17 at the time, escaped without physical injury. Her 12 and 14 year old sons were on vacation in Algeria. Like others before her, Seloua, long black hair and black flowered dress, recounts the interminable wait – four days – before the confirmation of the death of her sister. And the announcement, lapidary: “It is indeed the body of Aldjia Bouzaouit which has been identified, according to the DNA of his daughter”.
Aldjia, nicknamed “Moum”, was a second mother for this large family, explains Sabra, in a light gray coat and veil. “Every morning, from the Saint-Georges clinic where she worked” as a hospital service agent, “she called (…) to find out if we were fine. It was the ritual”.

“Why was she alone? Why was I with my friends? »

After his death, the family “split up”, regrets Sabra, who was in Marseille the evening of the attack. “Everyone was in their suffering, blamed themselves”. “There were a lot of tensions and reproaches,” confirms Seloua. “Why was she alone? Why was I with my friends? Why did we go buy that ice cream that night? »
“If you don’t respond to evil with good, you will destroy yourself. Be courageous (…) be an example”, advises the imam of a mosque in Nice, where she organizes a vigil for the victims.
Seloua then took charge of her four nephews and became involved in the Promenade des Anges victims’ association. Regarding “those who perpetrated this attack”, “I rely on justice” and “I rely on God”, she concludes in French and Arabic for the three main defendants, all Tunisians or d Tunisian origin. To speak in Arabic is to address “directly to them so that they understand exactly what I have in my heart”, she explained to AFP before her testimony.

“I can tell you forcefully that you are not of my religion”

None of these three main defendants is being prosecuted for complicity, but for terrorist criminal association. The five other defendants are suspected of having provided weapons to the assailant. “As a Muslim, in love with my religion, I can tell you forcefully that you are not of my religion. I am what you are not”, also launches Sabra, wife of a gendarme, to those who “associate themselves” with terrorism. “The Tunisians, they are not like that. It is the most open country in the Arab world,” adds Olfa Villani, who came to testify next.

Meeting with the killer three months before the attack

For this secretary at the Tunisian consulate in Nice, who lost her husband, her parents-in-law and a nephew in the attack, the fact that “the killer (is) Tunisian” represents “a double penalty”. At the consulate, she says she “met the killer” three months before the facts. He had come to ask for an extract from his Tunisian criminal record for his employer. “He was pissed because he wanted his paper. I had to calm him down”. After the attack, it was again up to her to manage the assailant’s “father and uncle”, who wanted him to be buried in Tunisia. “The uncle was very aggressive, the truth. And the father, he didn’t speak, because he was ashamed, I think”.



letelegramme Fr Trans

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