The band that played at the Bataclan the night of the Paris attacks will tell the court about their traumatic experience
This week, Eagle of Death frontman Jesse Hughes, 49, will give his version of events on the night of the Paris attacks in 2015, when the Bataclan theater he was playing in was attacked by terrorists.
He is expected to share details of how he briefly came face to face with one of the gunmen but was thankfully able to get away.
The band’s former guitarist, Eden Galindo, 52, and Matt McJunkins, 39, who played bass that night, will also testify in a Paris court in one of France’s most important legal cases.
They are expected to talk about the horrific events that transpired when jihadists stormed into the auditorium and the impact this traumatic event had on their lives.
The night of November 13, 2015 is the worst terrorist attack in French history, Islamic extremists wearing suicide vests entered the Bataclan as the band had just started playing “Kiss the Devil” and opened fire on the crowd, killing 90 people.
Members of US rock band Eagles of Death Metal will testify in a French court about their experience on November 13, 2015, when the Bataclan concert hall they were performing in was attacked by Islamic gunmen
Frontman Jesse Hughes (pictured: right, next to guitarist Dave Catching at a memorial outside the Bataclan concert hall) will describe in court how he came face to face with one of the terrorists this week
The band hadn’t been on stage for long (pictured) when the three gunmen opened fire on the crowd, which some initially mistaken for a malfunctioning loudspeaker or pyrotechnics
The gunmen who stormed the Bataclan died in the attack, but there are 14 defendants at trial.
However, only one is accused of direct involvement – 31-year-old Salah Abdeslam, who allegedly gave up a suicide belt outside the Stade de France.
The others are charged with less serious terrorism offences. The trial, which began in September, is expected to conclude at the end of next month.
“I saw the looks on all those faces in front of me,” former guitarist Galindo said. ‘[The audience] didn’t know what was going on, they couldn’t see anything. They were pushed against each other, then against the stage.
Salah Abdeslam (pictured), 31, is the only surviving member of the attackers who struck Paris
“It’s hard to go back on all that,” he told the Journal di Dimanche newspaper. “All these years I tried not to think about it.” Writing the statement that he will read in court'[took] reminds me of the emotions that came over me after the attacks“.
Galindo said he still struggled to forgive those responsible, even though he felt it was the right thing to do.
He added: “It’s a long road and I hope to get there one day. But today, I still feel so angry towards them.
Singer Hughes, a firearms enthusiast, immediately knew what was going on when he heard the first of around 50 gunshots – unlike his bandmates and audience members who thought it might be pyrotechnics, firecrackers or speaker malfunction.
The singer was the first to realize this and shouted at his comrades to run.
He, Galindo, and drummer Julian Dorio managed to safely escape through a backstage door, but guitarist Dave Catching and bassist Matt McJunkins were unable to escape.
Catching hid alone in a bathroom stall while the McJunkins hid in a locker room with several fans.
A commemorative plaque and flowers were placed at the entrance to the Bataclan concert hall (pictured) in 2018 to remind the 130 people who were killed on the third anniversary of the Paris attacks
An eyewitness reported hearing the gunmen wondering among themselves where the members of the Eagles of Death Metal were after the gunfire stopped.
Hughes recalled his escape and how he came face to face with one of the gunmen.
“I saw the shooter. He turned around and shot the gun at me, but the barrel hit the door frame,’ Hughes told Vice in an interview recorded shortly after the event.
The group’s head of merchandising, Nick Alexander, 35, from Essex, died – the only Briton to be killed that night in which 130 people were killed.
Testifying in October, her sister, Zoe Alexander, told defendants at trial that while her family “mourns what you did, we don’t hate you”.
The group members are among more than 2,000 people with civil party status – those who, according to French law, have suffered physically or mentally as a result of a crime.
As such, they are not limited to describing the horrors of that night but can talk more broadly about their feelings. Some read long written statements.
Their testimonies were intermingled with those of politicians, police and other experts who provided information on how the attack by the Franco-Belgian jihadist group was orchestrated by Isis from its headquarters in the Syrian city of Raqqa.