The appeal trial of the Nice attack has opened

The appeal trial of two relatives of the author of the ram truck attack on the Promenade des Anglais in Nice, which left eighty-six people dead on July 14, 2016, opened Monday April 22 before the special assize court of Paris

The appeal trial of the Nice attack has opened

The appeal trial of two relatives of the author of the ram truck attack on the Promenade des Anglais in Nice, which left eighty-six people dead on July 14, 2016, opened Monday April 22 before the special assize court of Paris.

The two defendants, Mohamed Ghraieb, a 48-year-old Franco-Tunisian, and Chokri Chafroud, a 44-year-old Tunisian, are the only ones of the eight trial defendants to have appealed. They were sentenced to eighteen years in prison for participation in a criminal terrorist association.

At the opening of the hearing, chaired by magistrate Christophe Petiteau, the two men simply stated their identities. The defendants' first words are not expected until Tuesday.

The bomber, Mohamed Lahouaiej-Bouhlel, a 31-year-old Tunisian delivery driver, was killed by police on the day of the attack.

“The victims are mainly waiting for the court of appeal to confirm the convictions, or even to go beyond concerning the quantum of the sentences,” lawyer Olivia Chalus-Penochet, who represents several civil parties. More than 2,500 people have joined as civil parties. Among them, 230 planned to speak at the bar.

Nine minors are expected to speak for the first time during this trial. They will deliver their testimony from Nice.

Second deadliest attack committed in France

As during the trial at first instance, the hearing is filmed and recorded for the archives. A web radio allows civil parties who cannot travel to Paris to follow the proceedings on a slight delay.

In rendering its verdict, the court of first instance found that Mohamed Ghraieb and Chokri Chafroud had participated in Mohamed Lahouaiej-Bouhlel's criminal project, in particular by traveling with him in his truck a few days before the attack.

During the proceedings, the two accused always proclaimed their innocence, claiming to have no knowledge of the criminal plans of the author of the attack. Their lawyers told AFP they would plead for acquittal.

The Nice attack was the second deadliest in France after the attacks against the Stade de France, the Bataclan concert hall and terraces of bars and restaurants in Paris on November 13, 2015.

Before the events, Mohamed Lahouaiej-Bouhlel was better known for acts of violence, particularly against his wife, than for his proximity to the jihadist movement. His attack was claimed, two days after the incident, by the Islamic State (IS) organization. The investigation, however, did not establish a direct link between the attack and IS. This claim “appears to be more of a claim of pure expediency,” the investigation concluded.

The trial is scheduled until June 14.