It was 10 years ago to the day that terrorists struck the transport network in Paris. A bomb exploded in Saint Michel metro station, killing eight people and injuring around 100 – the first in a series of five bloody attacks in France that year.
Martine Boutros-Hescoat was working at the station at the time. She was one of the first to reach the victims and 10 years later, she is still traumatised. “I often come to Saint Michel, I come anonymously, I come to gather my thoughts, I come because, well, because the deaths are part of me,” she said. After the third attack, the trail led towards the GIA – Algeria’s outlawed Armed Islamic Group, but the investigation was difficult. For one former member of France’s internal intelligence service, it was just the start. Jean-Pierre Pochon said: “There were some theories but they were just my personal thoughts that it looked like what exists today in the radical Islamist movement, called al Qaeda, in the sense that it was not strongly structured from the top down, rather it was a horizontal network.” Although three men were arrested, tried and sentenced, one suspect has never been through the French judicial system. Rachid Ramda was arrested in London in November 1995. He was suspected of having financed the attacks. In London he was the correspondant of Al Ansar newspaper, in which the GIA claimed responsibility for the attacks. A decade on, France is still waiting for him to be extradited. Francoise Rudetzki of the victim support group SOS Attentats said that she thinks after the attacks in London, the UK will appreciate just how important it is for the families of those killed in Paris in 1995 to know the truth. Despite announcements by successive British interior ministers that he would be extradited, Ramda continues to fight attempts to deliver him to French justice. He has now appealed for a judicial review of the decision by Charles Clarke in April to extradite him.