Eagles of Death Metal members testified Tuesday in the criminal trial of the surviving member of the Islamic State extremist cell that attacked the Bataclan theater during their concert in 2015, killing 90 people there, France 24 reports.
Frontman Jesse Hughes spoke of faith during his testimony and mentioned forgiveness to reporters. “I’m a Christian and everyone can be lost and everyone needs to find the way and most of the gentlemen in there do, so I forgive them and I hope that they find the peace of God themselves,” he said.
Both Hughes and guitarist Eden Galindo are among the survivors who are serving as witnesses to the Nov. 13, 2015 attacks, when the extremists, armed and wearing suicide vests, stormed their concert. They are also civil parties to the case, according to Associated Press.
During his testimony on Tuesday, an emotional Hughes described the scene, saying he instantly recognized the sound of gunfire and his life has forever been changed since the attack. “I’m in a different state today,” he said according to a translated tweet from France 5 journalist Guillaume Auda, who’s been covering the trial since it began last September. “But I carry a nervousness in me since these attacks. I look at the crowds differently today. Now I’m starting to feel buried feelings again that I thought I had overcome.”
Jesse Hugues : Je suis dans un état différent aujourd'hui. Mais je porte une nervosité en moi depuis ces attaques. Je regarde les foules de manière différente aujourd'hui. Là je recommence à sentir des sentiments enfouis que je pensais avoir surmonté#proces13novembre /6793
— 𝔾𝕦𝕚𝕝𝕝𝕒𝕦𝕞𝕖 𝔸𝕦𝕕𝕒 (@GuillaumeAuda) May 17, 2022
But Hughes added that the attackers had not taken away his love of music. “I pray today for them and for their souls, that the light of our lord shines on them,” he said. “I would like to conclude with one word from singer Ozzy Osborne, ‘You can’t kill rock n’ roll! You can’t kill rock n’ roll!'”
Galindo, meanwhile, testified that when the attack began, he thought the sound system was malfunctioning: “I remember the crowd looking at us, not understanding. We thought it was going to stop. But it kept going. They reloaded.”
He recalled escaping through a side door and being unsure if the gunmen were following them. He ended up at the police station “with others there covered in blood.” He added: “Objectively I will never be the same since that day. But we continued our tour. Today I have one daughter, I have a different life. I will never be the same again. I think of the victims every day. I pray for them.”
Sole defendant Salah Abdeslam was arrested in Belgium after five months on the lam. Prosecutors believe he is the only surviving member of the cell that carried out the attack, which also targeted restaurants, bars, and the national sports stadium (130 people were killed in total). Abdeslam is charged with murder as part of an organized terrorist gang, though he is not accused of killing anyone himself. While prosecutors say his suicide belt malfunctioned, Abdeslam said he changed his mind about going forward with the attack.
Abdeslam’s early testimony has been described as defiant with reports stating that he refused to answer questions. But last month he gave a tearful plea for forgiveness, telling the court, “I know that hatred remains… I ask you today that you hate me with moderation. I ask you to forgive me.”
The rest of the attackers killed themselves with their suicide vests or were killed by police. Nearly 20 others have been charged with related crimes, from providing logistical support to supplying the weapons. The trial is expected to conclude in June.