- Trial of Nov. 13, 2015 jihadist attacks due to start
- 130 killed in attacks on concert hall, bars, stadium
- Trial will take place under high security
- Verdict expected in late May
French police mounted tight security around the Palais de Justice courthouse in central Paris on Wednesday for the trial of 20 men suspected of involvement in a jihadist rampage across the capital nearly six years ago.
Some 130 people were killed and hundreds wounded when gunmen with suicide vests attacked six bars and restaurants, the Bataclan concert hall and a sports stadium on Nov. 13, 2015, leaving deep scars on the nation's psyche.
More than 1,000 police will be devoted to ensuring the security of the trial and all people allowed into the specially-built courtroom will have to pass through several checkpoints.
"The terrorist threat in France is high, especially at times like the attacks' trial," Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin told France Inter radio.
Vans thought to be carrying some of the accused left the Fleury-Merogis prison south of Paris before the trial, scheduled to start at about 12:30 (1030 GMT).
"It is important that the victims can bear witness, can tell the perpetrators, the suspects who are on the stand, about the pain," Philippe Duperron, whose 30-year-old son Thomas was killed in the attacks, told Reuters.
"We are also awaiting anxiously because we know that as this trial takes place the pain, the events, everything will come back to the surface," said Duperron, who is the president of a victims' association and will testify at the trial.
The trial will last nine months, with about 1,800 plaintiffs and more than 300 lawyers taking part in what Justice Minister Eric Dupond-Moretti has described as an unprecedented judicial marathon.
Survivors and relatives of those killed said they hoped the trial would help them, and everyone, better understand what happened and why it happened - and hopefully avoid further attacks.
"That night plunged us all into horror and ugliness," said Jean-Pierre Albertini, whose 39-year old son, Stephane, was killed in the Bataclan.
Most of the accused, including Salah Abdeslam, a 31-year old French-Moroccan who is widely believed to be the only surviving member of the group suspected of carried out the attacks, face life imprisonment if convicted.
The other suspects, six of whom will be tried in absentia, are accused of helping to provide guns and cars or playing a role in organising the attacks.
Responsibility for the killings was claimed by Islamic State, which had urged its followers to attack France over its involvement in the fight against the group in Iraq and Syria.
The first days of the trial are expected to be largely procedural, with plaintiffs being registered, though judges may read a summary of how the attacks unfolded.
Victims' testimonies are set to start on Sept.28, with one week devoted to the attacks on the Stade de France and cafes, and four to the Bataclan.
The questioning of the accused will start in November but they are not set to be questioned on the night of the attacks and the week before them until March.
A verdict is expected in late May.