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Eagles of Death Metal band member "forgives" suspects during Bataclan attacks trial

Singer Jesse Hughes was on stage at the Bataclan concert hall in Paris on November 13, 2015, when gunmen started firing on the crowd and set off explosives.

This week, he was back in Paris to testify at the trial of 20 men accused of carrying out the wave of attacks. 

"I forgive them," he said afterward. "It's important to forgive."

The lead singer of the American band Eagles of Death Metal told the court about the shock the band felt as the attackers burst through the doors and opened fire with automatic weapons. The band escaped through a side door, but their tour manager was killed.

After his court appearance, Hughes said: "I feel better. I was surrounded by the love and my friends here in France, and love wins."

Among those on trial is the alleged tenth member of the 10-man commando believed to have carried out the attacks, Salah Abdeslam. He was the only survivor. 

Abdeslam has already appeared in court and said he chose not to set off his suicide vest that night. He fled to Belgium, where he was caught several months later. 

"I did not kill anyone, and I did not hurt anyone. Not even a scratch," Abdeslam said in a short address to the court before questioning began in February.

Last October, a month after the lengthy trial opened, it was the turn of some 300 survivors to tell their stories. Identified by only their first names, those at the Bataclan spoke of the terror they felt as they tried to hide, or dropped to the floor, as the shooting continued, and many concert-goers were taken hostage. 

Clarisse was just 24 when she went to the rock concert that night. She told the court how she smashed through the ceiling in the toilets and hid for four hours while the shooting continued.

Edith hid in the balcony of the Bataclan, listening to the shots, the cries, telephones ringing, and the explosion as one of the attackers set off his suicide vest.

American caterer Helen begged one gunman in English "please stop" – he moved away, but her friend Nick was already dead.

Irmine said the bouncer in the Bataclan concert hall took her arm and urged her to run as the attackers reloaded their guns. Cedric told how he had to walk over dead bodies to flee.

Abdeslam, who is in custody in solitary confinement in a high-security wing of a Paris prison, is the only one of the accused who is on trial for murder. He is also charged with attempted murder, terrorist association and more. The trial continues.

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