As the trial for the November 13 attacks opens on Wednesday, Le Monde journalist Daniel Psenny recalls. That day, in his apartment overlooking the Bataclan, he films with his phone images that will go down in history … before being injured in his turn.
Shouts, Kalashnikov fire, people trying to escape, a woman hanging from a balcony of the Bataclan … From her apartment which opens onto an emergency exit from the auditorium, on the 2nd floor, Passage Saint -Pierre-Amelot, Daniel Psenny captures with his phone part of the terrorist attack, during which 90 people will be killed. “What’s going on?” He yells several times. The journalist does not know, “not aware of what had happened previously at the Stade de France and in front of the terraces of Paris”, where the terrorist commando has just sowed death and terror.
Spontaneously, he thinks of a settling of scores in the Bataclan, on which he has seen for forty years. After taking a few photos and to give more weight to his testimony “by journalistic reflex”, he films “being careful not to move, without going back and forth”. His images will travel around the world, freely accessible on the World website. “Probably a mistake,” he said today.
[The video is still visible on the World site by following this link, beware the images and the sound can be shocking]
“The only scoop that I have done in my life, but still global … It is the first time, beyond the World Trade Center, that we saw what terrorism produced with people falling and die, noise. More than the pictures, it was the sounds that impressed me “. “This is pretty exceptional testimony. I’m not saying this to pump up my ankles but it is a reality, “adds the author, now 64 and retired.
In the days following the attacks, the authenticity of his video was questioned on social media, and the journalist was accused of preferring to film rather than helping the victims. “There was still a lot of hostility towards the film. I fully accept it: I made this video by reflex, what was I there. I did not rush to go there. And I filmed transparently. “
Shortly before 10 p.m., the bullets finally fell silent. Thinking the attack over, Daniel Psenny, who “(has) never been a war reporter, (is) afraid of war”, puts his phone away and goes out to shoot Matthew, an American tourist lying on the sidewalk in his lobby. , hurt. In his lobby, the journalist in turn was hit by a bullet, fired by one of the members of the jihadist trio from the floor of the Bataclan, and which pierced his arm.
Then begins “the second sequence, as hard as the first: I feel myself dying” in the apartment of his neighbors Bruno and Estelle, where there are several hours before being allowed to reach a first aid station. The video is still on his phone. “I had tried to send it but it was not working. I was saying to Estelle: if something happens to me, you really need to get the video and take it to the newspaper. ” It will be copied during the night by an intern from Le Monde, who managed to sneak up to her room at the Georges Pompidou Hospital. The reconstruction of Daniel Psenny “was a little complicated”, between nightmares and difficulties in finding his place: “For a few weeks, I was seen more as a victim in Le Monde, and as a journalist by the victims” and their relatives, within the 13Onze15 association.
“To start another life elsewhere”, he will finally leave his apartment and Paris in October 2019 to join his wife in Budapest, with whom he had married two months before November 13, 2015.