Appeal trial of the Nice attack: who are the accused who claim incomprehension?

The appeal trial for the Nice attack on July 14, 2016 begins before the Paris Special Assize Court this Monday, April 22.

Appeal trial of the Nice attack: who are the accused who claim incomprehension?

The appeal trial for the Nice attack on July 14, 2016 begins before the Paris Special Assize Court this Monday, April 22. Two of the condemned, Mohamed Ghraieb and Chokri Chafroud, appealed after the first trial.

This Monday, April 22, 2024, begins before the special assize court of Paris, the appeal trial of two relatives of the author of the ram truck attack in Nice on July 24, 2016. Mohamed Ghraieb, Franco-Tunisian from 48 years old and Chokri Chafroud, a 44-year-old Tunisian, were sentenced to 18 years of imprisonment, out of 20 years incurred, for participation in a criminal terrorist association. The author of the attack which left 86 dead, Mohamed Lahouaiej-Bouhlel, was killed by the police on the day of the tragedy.

During its verdict, the court of first instance considered that Mohamed Ghraieb and Chokri Chafroud had participated in Mohamed Lahouaiej-Bouhlel's project. During the proceedings, the two accused always proclaimed their innocence. Their lawyers will plead for acquittal. As a reminder, Mohamed Ghraieb presented himself spontaneously to investigators the day after the attack. The latter knew Lahouaiej-Bouhlel when he was young in Tunisia and worked as a night watchman in a hotel in the center of Nice in July 2016. For his part, Chokri Chafroud indicated that he knew the terrorist in August 2015 upon his arrival in France. He worked on construction sites but did not have permanent housing.

For the two accused, a similar element of their defense is obvious, the incomprehension at the time of receiving SMS messages from Mohamed Lahouaiej-Bouhlel. Ghraieb had numerous telephone exchanges with the terrorist the year preceding the attack. On the other hand, he always denied having provided him with a weapon, and claimed "not to have understood" the meaning of one of the SMS sent by Lahouaiej-Bouhlel on July 5, 2016, referring to a truck rental.

Same story with the second accused, Chokri Chafroud. He declared, during the first trial, after receiving an SMS mentioning a truck rental agency, "not having understood it, like many messages" from the jihadist, including the message sent on July 14, just before the attack, in which there is question of a delivery of weapons for "Chokri and his friends" and of an action the following month. Chokri Chafroud had already had difficulty justifying his exchanges with the terrorist, on the social network Facebook, in April 2016. He had notably written: "Load the truck, put 2,000 tons of iron in it and fuck off, cut his brakes my friend, and I'm watching.

In its first instance verdict, the special assize court noted an “ideological convergence” between Ghraieb and the jihadist. He “knew that he was contributing to the preparation of a terrorist act,” she noted. For Chafroud, the court had considered him "as a real inspiration for the attack not in the religious or ideological motives of his action, but in the choice of his mode of operation". The trial will take place five days a week, from Monday 9:30 a.m. to Friday evening, from April 22 to June 14, 2024, except May 10 and 20.

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