“We weren’t in the salon” … At Barjols’ trial, the defendants were overwhelmed with “problems”

At the penal court in Paris,

Even before getting to the heart of the matter, the president of the 16th chamber of the penitentiary court in Paris, Thomas Jouck, wants to make it clear: “Here, we are not doing religion, politics, or morality. Here, we are just doing law. I say this because , at times, it evokes fantasies about political justice that have no place. It must be said that the case is sensitive: since Tuesday and over the course of three weeks, thirteen ultra-right activists have been tried on charges of criminal association. They are suspected of, to varying degrees, instigating the attacks against Emmanuel Macron in November 2018, but has also considered attacking migrants, burning mosques or even kidnapping “rich people” for ransom.

On the bench, most of the accused were between 50 and 66 years old. All or nearly all dressed in black or anthracite gray, listen to the judges – especially the pedagogue – arms folded, staring. Nine of them had never had anything to do with the law before. Starting with the only defendant who appears to be in custody: Mickaël Iber, 43 years old, but apparently has ten more due to his features being marked. Justice is worried that he will not appear at the trial if he is acquitted. But finally this Tuesday, what is clear is not the political aspect but the social color of this file.

“It’s a purebred cat”

Despite facing up to ten years in prison, many are impressed not to understand the stakes of trial. Like the defendant Julien C., who asked, through his lawyers, to be excused from attending trials – except for his trial – because of the health condition of his… cat. “He’s a purebred cat, no one else can get close to him,” his attorney insisted, holding up the animal’s health record before the president’s slightly astonished gaze. “Between your cat’s insulin dose and the legal troubles for you and the other defendants… Anyway, I think that’s more important,” the judge complained. Even the man with the thick black beard, suspected of providing a recipe for making explosives, would not reconsider his decision: he would simply commute back and forth from Brittany for questioning.

Co-defendant, for many, highlighted the cost of such trials: too far, too expensive, too time consuming. All live in the province, many are unemployed or have temporary jobs. For the youngest, the court as the public prosecutor does not oppose. This 26-year-old man, represented by the group’s leader, Jean-Pierre Bouyer, as his “right arm” has a mental disability. He said he understood the president “vaguely” when he reminded him of the offenses he was accused of. At the time of rejecting his identity, he couldn’t hold back his sobs, shoving his hands into his pockets to try to control the tremors. “Blow, blow”, tuck him in, kind hearted, president.

“We are not in a hair salon”

For others, on the other hand, the judge is stricter. If he understands the boundaries, he explains the importance of attending the debate, can answer if you are asked questions by other defendants. In short, the need for “contradictions”. But at the helm, Nathalie C., in her fifties, salty hair, pink sweater, wouldn’t hear a thing.

He blasted “hallucinating” Airbnb prices in the capital, explaining that he did not have the means to make the daily round trip between Paris and the Moselle. “By the way, I hate Paris, it worries me,” he blurted out without really considering what the president had said to him. “We are not in the salon”, answered the latter. Dan insisted: “If you’re not there, it gets you into trouble. »

“Political thinking is not an offense”

Nothing helps: the accused will ignore the trial, except for his trial. More than the punishment imposed, he especially fears losing the two clients he cleared. “I work with a general practitioner, if he finds out, I’m fired. “It had happened to him when the affair broke out: one of his clients called him a “terrorist” every day, he finally resigned. “This is my job or a business that has been going on for four years. Well, I chose my job,” he explained casually. And what difference does it make if it is “punished”.

How many defendants will still be present on Wednesday when the court gets to the heart of the case? Mystery. This is perhaps what this first day emerged: the respondents – many of whom indicated the investigation had conspiratorial tendencies – would they have been present enough to understand the fountain of justice, to see its independence at “200%” in the president’s words, and understand why they were fired? ? “Political thinking is not an offence,” the judge stressed.

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