She is the same age as him, 31 years. But their story couldn’t be more different. He has grown from drug addict petty criminal to public enemy number one, she is one of the most brilliant lawyers in France, ambitious, of award-winning eloquence and respected by her counterparts.
What irony: with Maître Olivia Ronen, the defense of the fundamentalist main defendant in the “Bataclan Trial”, a man with misogynistic ideas, is in the hands of a woman! Since the beginning of September, the Paris Justice Palace has been working on the terror series, in which a total of 130 people were killed in November 2015 in front of the Stade de France football stadium, on the terraces of bars and restaurants and in the Bataclan music hall.
This week, survivors and their families took the stand for the first time. 14 men sit in the glass box provided for them. The best known is Ronen’s client, the only survivor of the terrorist squad. According to the investigators’ findings, he drove three of the suicide bombers to the soccer stadium, wore an explosive belt himself, but did not set it on fire.
Islam attackers and neo-Nazis are her clients
Almost three years later, in the summer of 2018, in Fleury-Mérogis prison: The inmate number 444806 contacted the young lawyer, little known to the public, from his high-security cell. It is said that he saw Olivia Ronen on a TV program about French returnees from Syria.
Ronen has experience with extremism. She defended one of the people behind the Nice attack, but also right-wing extremists. Behind her often only hinted smile hides an unwavering determination. She opposes the wave of media and hatred that has struck her since the beginning of the trial with her discretion. “As a lawyer, you shouldn’t be afraid, not to please or to shock,” she explains in one of her rare interviews. And adds: “Otherwise you might as well stay at home.”
Paris, 1st arrondissement, this week. Those affected report “confettis de chair”, confettis made from scraps of skin, when one of the terrorists blew himself up in the Bataclan. From “splintered teeth, vibrating cell phones under a pile of dead bodies”. A young man reports on the witness stand how he experienced the night of the crime on the terrace of «Le Carillon». He imitates the fire of a Kalashnikov and speaks into the microphone: “Seven bullets destroyed a person. It took four days to find all of my friend’s body parts. “
A million pages of litigation files
The massacre fills a million pages in the trial files. Anyone who asks Olivia Ronen why she is defending a client who is jointly responsible for the terrorist attack always hears the same answer: “The worse the facts, the more the defense must be absolute, without concessions.”
The survivors’ hearings will last at least four more weeks, with the defendants only giving evidence in early 2022. Ronen’s client faces life imprisonment. It is unlikely that the lawyer can change this sentence.