TESTIMONY. Assassination of Father Hamel in Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray: “I did not want to move so that they did not come to finish me”, testifies a survivor of the attack

Guy Coponet celebrated his 87th birthday that day. He is 92 today. A former employee of a stationery plant in Normandy, he was mArried for 68 years to Janine, his wife, who died last year, who was also there at mass, in the church of Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray, on July 26, 2016. He tells.

“Mass went as usual. Father Jacques was happy, he was going on vacation with his family. It went normally, there weren’t many of us, 5 or 6, it was during the holidays .”

During mass, someone knocked on the door of the sacristy. One of the sisters went to open. It was someone who came to see the father. She said to him, “He is busy during the service. After the service he will see you. Wait a quarter of an hour, twenty minutes from here.” And at the end, when there was no more noise, they opened the door of the sacristy and they entered. Brutally, giving orders: “Move more!”

Guy Coponet

at franceinfo

So I squeezed my throat as best I could, to keep it from bleeding too much. I played dead. My back hurt… But I didn’t want to move so they wouldn’t come and finish me off. It lasted quite a while.

Guy Coponet

at franceinfo

Guy Coponet says: “We ask ourselves questions, we end up thinking about all the life we ​​had before, praying to all those we usually pray to, the Saints. And then it’s weird, in the eyes I saw a color that I didn’t know. It was a blue, but a blue that I had never seen. And I never found it elsewhere, the content of that blue. During that time, I heard what was going on. The discussions they had with the sisters [les religieuses qui assistaient à la messe]. In all this, there is Sister Danièle, along the way during these explanations with the guys, she managed to go out to seek help. He’s my guardian angel.”

“Physically it’s fine. On the moral side, it’s still fine. But my wife died last year. We loved each other so much. We took life as a gift. So that morale, it’s difficult. We went to mass every two times a week at the church of Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray. Now, when I leave the church, I go to the cemetery and I pray with her. She is still there. It has completely changed our life, what happened on July 26, 2016. Stupidly, I will say, it made us grow, we see life differently.

Guy Coponet and his daughter Anne Garcia, February 3, 2022. (LAURIANE DELANOE / RADIO FRANCE)

“We have to find the real people responsible, those who fomented this, who staged this massacre. They are the ones who gave the orders, who – in my opinion – completely confused the heads of those who For a man to get to that point, to kill someone, there has to be a resource that has lifted him up to such a point that… So the trial, I’m not saying punish, it’s not even that…” Guy Coponet sighs. “Perhaps we will have a pardon from those who provoked all this? It would have to go that far, to the limit. But what are we going to tell them? As the Lord would say, “They don’t know what they’re doing“.”

Four men are on trial in this trial:one for complicity, Rachid Kassim, absent, he is presumed dead in Iraq in 2017. The other three for “participation in a criminal terrorist conspiracy”. These three defendants, 25, 27 and 36 years old, will be present at the trial, they incur up to 30 years of criminal imprisonment.

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