The biggest trial in France’s modern history opens on Wednesday amid very tight security measures.
20 suspects were charged of planning and carrying out a terrorist attack in Paris in November 2015.
The trial opened with just 11 men in the prisoners’ dock. Three others will sit in the open court, under judicial control but not behind bars.
Five were dead while fighting for Islamic State in Syria or Iraq.
However, they must stand before court since the court has no definitive proof that they ared ead.
The suicide bombing and gun assault by three teams of jihadists was the worst postwar atrocity in France.
The attacks left 130 people killed and hundreds more injured.
This long-awaited trial comes after nearly five years of police investigations, with 47,000 interviews giving rise to 542 volumes of evidence.
There will be 330 lawyers, and as many as 1,800 survivors and relatives of victims.
Journalists from 141 media, 58 news organisations from outside France, attended the court session. Perhaps as many as 3,000 people will be in attendance on the busiest days.
Furthermore, the entire trial will be filmed for historical purposes.
“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’re eager for it to start but we’re wondering how it’s going to go over the next nine months,” he said.
The trial will last until May 2022 with 145 days of scheduled hearings involving about 330 lawyers, 300 victims and testimony from former president François Hollande in November.
“These events will remain in our collective memory,” Justice Minister Eric Dupont-Moretti told French TV. He vowed that the trial would rise to the challenge.