Survivors or relatives of the victims of the Bataclan (90 dead) had come in large numbers to the special assize court in Paris to hear the Californian singer and the former guitarist of the group, Eden Galindo, both civil parties to the trial, which resumed after a week of suspension due to the Covid of one of the accused.
“The events that occurred on November 13 changed my life forever,” said Jesse Hughes, dressed all in black and wearing a red tie, via an interpreter.
In a loud and clear voice, the singer recalled how, “in the middle of the concert”, he heard gunshots. “Coming from a desert area in California, the sound of gunfire is very familiar to me. I knew what was coming, I felt death approaching me.”
His voice knots. The 49-year-old singer recounts the panic, the desire to flee the concert hall as quickly as possible with his partner and guitarist Eden Galindo.
“An angel named Arthur put us in a taxi and sent us to the police station,” he recalled.
This “Arthur” is Arthur Dénouveaux, who has become the president of the Life for Paris association, which brings together the victims of the November 13 attacks.
At the police station, the two musicians discover dozens of wounded people covered in blood. They also learn of the death of one of their own, the Briton Nick Alexander, who was in charge of the group’s merchandising.
That evening, “90 of my friends were heinously killed in front of us,” Jesse Hughes continues, his hands clenched on the desk, looking the members of the court straight in the eye.
“Everyone who was at the concert that night was my friend.”
The singer tells how he hesitated for a long time to go back on stage. “I didn’t know if I would have the strength to come back, because I thought I was like cheese that would attract mice.”
“After the attacks, I asked myself a lot of questions, I was a bit lost, I relied on friends, especially in France, to keep moving forward. This tragedy was able to be transformed into a torch of light,” he insists.
– “Evil has not won” –
“Evil has not won”, maintains the singer, who claims to have “forgiven” the “poor souls who committed these acts”.
“I pray for them and for their souls, that the light of our Lord shines on them”, he says before concluding with words from singer Ozzy Osbourne: “you can’t kill rock’n’roll” (“we can’t kill rock’n’roll”).
Before him, Eden Galindo, 52, also dressed all in black, had told of the joy emanating from the concert before the attack.
“We were on tour in Paris, it was a great concert, everything was going well, everyone was dancing. It was a great show”, he recalls.
And then comes the “thud” of bullets fired from automatic weapons. He first thinks of a sound problem before seeing Jesse Hughes running towards him. “People are shooting… We ran… We thought it was going to stop, but it kept going.”
“After all that, it was very difficult to do things normally. I felt broken,” says the guitarist, head down. “I will never be the same after that night.”
Eden Galindo would like to say a word to the families of the victims. “I think of them every day and pray for them.”
Leaving the courtroom, Jesse Hughes hugs several civil parties. Some cry. Jesse Hughes too.
After them, about twenty women and men, survivors of the Bataclan, recounted their traumatic experience and their persistent suffering more than six years after the attacks which caused the death of 130 people in Paris and Saint-Denis.
The hearings of the civil parties must continue until Friday. The lawyers for the civil parties will begin their pleadings on Monday.
The verdict is expected on June 29.