The purpose of the trial, which opened on September 5 before the special assize court in Paris, is solely to try eight people for their involvement, to varying degrees, in the attack on the ram truck which caused 86 dead and more than 400 injured on the evening of July 14, 2016.

However, the question of the device intended to protect the Promenade des Anglais has emerged over the course of the debates.

At the material time, Christian Estrosi was not mayor of Nice, due to multiple mandates, but first deputy of the municipality in charge of security.

Recalling that he had not personally participated in the preparation meetings for the evening with the prefect, he affirms that “no one had considered” this type of attack. “No threat had been identified” in Nice, he insists.

“This attack of July 14 marks the first attack of this type on European soil”, underlines the elected official, dark suit and tie on a white shirt, notes on the desk in front of him.

For the testimony of Mr. Estrosi, several dozen civil parties, much more than usual, took place in the courtroom reserved for “major trials”.

Before the intervention of the mayor of Nice, the president of the court, Laurent Raviot made a point of recalling that “this trial is not the trial of the authorities, nor of Mr. Estrosi”.

When the mayor arrives at the bar, shortly after 2:30 p.m., the president insists: “you are called as a witness today, we are not here to seek any responsibility on your part in the facts which are alleged against the accused”.

In his deposition, Christian Estrosi does not avoid emphasis.

“The Promenade des Anglais, for the little boy born into a modest family of Italian immigrants (that I was), it’s like my Promenade des Anglais for everyone in Nice. I see myself again, holding my mother’s hand, the top of my 5 years, looking at General de Gaulle in 1960”.

– “Artificial intelligence” –

Above all, he defends tooth and nail the municipal police he created in 2008 and the “video protection” system composed of 1,836 surveillance cameras then installed in his city (there are nearly 4,000 today).

The municipal police did not then have the possibility of communicating directly with the national police, he regrets.

As for the video surveillance, he admits that “the passages of the terrorist on the Promenade des Anglais before the attack could not be interpreted as locations until after the attack”.

“They could not be detected by the human eye”, he adds, “we would have had to resort to artificial intelligence”. “This use of artificial intelligence is still forbidden to us today”, deplores Christian Estrosi, “I have been asking for it for many years, well before the attack”.

But, astonished President Raviot, how could a 19-tonne truck roll ten times on the Promenade des Anglais four days before the attack without the police noticing?

“There are 100,000 vehicles a day on the Promenade des Anglais in one direction and 80,000 in the other (…) even if there would have been a violation noted, this falls under a 4th category fine for an amount of 90 euros”, replies the witness.

“The attack was perpetrated by an ignoble barbarian. It was he who sowed hatred and chaos and he was helped by accomplices whom the court has to judge”, summarizes the mayor.

“It will be up to the court to determine whether (the driver of the truck) Mohamed Lahouaiej-Bouhlel benefited from complicity”, continues the president.

Of the eight defendants, only three are being prosecuted for terrorist criminal association. None of the eight defendants is prosecuted for complicity.