Survivors and families of victims of the 2015 Bataclan attack in Paris have filed a legal complaint over the inaction of some soldiers that night in what could expose egregious failings within France's military and political commands, reports FRANCE 24.
The legal complaint was triggered by the testimony of a top military commander who gave evidence during a parliamentary investigation of the actions of police and military on the night of the attacks of November 13th 2015.
General Bruno Le Ray, Military Governor of Paris, defended the order he'd given that prevented eight soldiers located near the Bataclan concert hall from intervening in the attack because he thought “it unthinkable to put soldiers at risk just hoping, hypothetically, to save other lives”, Samia Maktouf, a Paris lawyer for the survivors and victims’ families, told FRANCE 24.
She said the soldiers were told not to use their weapons or even administer first aid to the many victims shot during the two-hour siege by jihadists affiliated to the Islamic State (IS) group at the music venue.
“The military did not make any mistake, they were acting under instruction,” said Maktouf, stressing that the complaint she filed is not aimed at punishing the soldiers.
“We want the judge to identify who gave the command not to enter [the Bataclan].”
During the 2016 parliamentary probe headed by Georges Fenech, questions were raised as to why the country's special operations force, the elite unit of the Sentinelle who specialise in counter-terrorism, were not deployed at the Bataclan.
In the concluding report, Fenech pointed to a lack of coordination and confusing lines of authority that had slowed down the response of the forces as the attack unfolded. However, he did not ascribe blame “at men but at organisations”, he told Le Figaro in an interview.
Maktouf believes otherwise and is suing on behalf of her clients to determine who gave the orders to hold the Sentinelle officers back. It is these individuals who she believes are ultimately responsible for the fatal failings that led to the deaths of 90 concert goers at the Bataclan.
Responding to Friday’s announcement of a legal complaint being filed, Col. Patrik Steiger, spokesman for the French Armed Forces Staff, defended the actions of security forces saying in a written statement that the soldiers took all measures possible to protect police officers at the scene, to protect the victims fleeing the hall and to facilitate the arrival of emergency assistance.
“The military intervened spontaneously on the night of November 13th, they arrived [at the Bataclan] while police were already present. The military secured areas around the Bataclan in coordination with, and at the request of, the internal security forces,” Col. Steiger said in a written statement to FRANCE 24.