The witness, François Hollande, walks quickly through the courtroom, past the light-colored, wooden benches where the co-plaintiffs and journalists are sitting. Past the huge glass box from which 11 of the 20 defendants are following the proceedings. The former French president doesn’t even look at them before stopping at a lectern at the front of the courtroom.
Behind Hollande to the left, just a few meters from him and separated by a pane of glass, sits Salah Abdeslam, 32, the only surviving member of the terror commando that descended on Paris on Nov. 13, 2015. Never before, it seems safe to say, have a representative of terror and a representative of the state come as close to each other as in this courtroom. It didn’t happen in the military tribunals in Guantanamo, nor in other terror trials.