‘We don’t hate you,’ sister of British Bataclan victim tells accused in Paris trial
The sister of the only Briton killed in the November 2015 Paris attacks told 14 people on trial in Paris over the bloodshed on Tuesday that while she and other victims’ families “deplore what you did, we don’t hate you.
Nick Alexander was killed when gunmen stormed the Bataclan theatre in Paris during a rock concert as part of a series of coordinated attacks across the French capital ordered by the Islamic State group.
A total of 130 people were killed in the shootings and suicide bombings, which ended in a massacre at the Bataclan, where the US band Eagles of Death Metal were performing in front of a capacity crowd.
Alexander, who was 35, was the band’s merchandise manager.
He died in the arms of his ex-girlfriend Helen Wilson after sustaining gunshot wounds.
Testifying on the 33rd day of the biggest trial in modern French history, his sister Zoe said Alexander eschewed hatred, saying: “You cannot neutralise poison with more poison.”
In remarks addressed to the sole surviving member of the 10-man IS cell that carried out the attacks, Salah Abdeslam, and his co-accused, the 48-year-old Briton said: “I don’t expect to hear remorse, but hope something you hear here will resonate with your conscience.”
She described her brother as a music lover and maverick, who defied conventions in the military town of Colchester where they grew up, with his alternative look of “long hair, skinny jeans and boots.”
He lived “a life of true authenticity, something those who carried out the atrocities of that night, under the orders of others, will never know,” she told the court.
A total of 20 people are on trial over the November 13, 2015 attacks on people enjoying a Friday night out at the Bataclan, nearby bars and restaurants and the national stadium where France and Germany were playing a friendly.
Six of the defendants who are missing, presumed dead, are being tried in absentia.
– ‘Legacy of light’ –
Over the last month, scores of survivors of the attacks and relatives of victims have been giving harrowing accounts of the attacks and their aftermath.
Alexander described the long anguished wait to find out whether her brother had survived the nearly-three-hour-long Bataclan assault.
In the early hours of November 14, 2015 she received a call from one of Nick’s colleagues informing her of his death and had to call her parents with the news.
“I knew once I made the call our lives would be changed forever,” she said, fighting back tears.
She described her brother as an “intriguing mix of the traditional and the unconventional” who “loved magic and theatre, music and science fiction, travel and being at home.”
While he toured the world selling the merchandise of various bands, he remained intensely loyal to his family and childhood friends, she said.
Following his death, tributes poured in from music legends like Damon Albarn and Cat Stevens.
“We’re not at war with you, you’re at war with yourselves,” Alexander told the defendants sitting in the dock in the cavernous courtroom built to host the trial in the Palace of Justice in central Paris.
Noting that Abdeslam’s older brother Brahim, who blew himself up in a bar in the final stages of the attacks, “also died a brutal and violent death”, she said: “Your parents also walk the same path as my parents… I hope you can honestly look inside your heart and say it was worth it.”
Speaking to AFP after her testimony, Alexander said that addressing the court felt like a “job” and that the chief source of solace for the family had come from creating a music trust in Nick’s name on the first anniversary of his death.
Over the past five years, the Nick Alexander Memorial Trust has funded 20 music projects in disadvantaged communities across Britain.
“The terrorists tried to leave a legacy of darkness but through the work we have done we have left a legacy of light,” she said.