“I’m hit, I’m going to die, calls my wife. “Frederic Boisseau, 42, has just been wounded in the chest by a bullet fired by one of the Kouachi brothers. He was the first victim of what would later become the “Charlie Hebdo” massacre, the first signs of the January 2015 terrorist attacks. His wife is Catherine. She is the mother of their two children and is in their kitchen in a small village in Seine-et-Marne when she receives this call which destroys her home in a few seconds.
Catherine is a 50-year-old woman, gentle, with a smile never far away, but with palpable reserve. This discreet mother of a family will find herself however from Tuesday morning under the spotlight. That day, the hearings of the civil parties begin and Catherine will have to put her apprehension aside to “get the ball rolling” with these testimonies from the relatives of the 17 victims. “I’m doing it for Frederic, so that we don’t forget him. We are 5 years later, there is a step backwards which is complicated, but we have to go through it. We have to do it, ”she tells us from her lawyer’s Paris office.
At the helm, Catherine plans to tell about her companion, the one she had met on a Fontainebleau-Paris train in 1998 and whom she had not left since. She, who “has a lot of trouble talking about Frederic to those who haven’t had the chance to know him”, will describe this “funny” with “such communicative laughter”, this party animal whose house was always open to friends. And then also this man “calm”, “always in a good mood” who “had started a maintenance agent”, had climbed the ranks. He “who knew what he wanted” had become operations manager at Sodexo, “team leader”, insists Catherine who ticks when Frederic is described as a simple “maintenance agent”.
Catherine will also portray the father of her children. The one who liked to spend “all his time” with his sons, walking in the forest or building wooden cabins.
And then Catherine will also have to remember her Wednesday, January 7, 2015. “I was not working, I was at home taking care of the children. I was in my kitchen with a friend. We were getting ready to pick up the little ones at the bus stop. “It is a colleague of Frederic who calls him and says to him:” We were shot, Frederic is injured “, tells the mother who remembers her disbelief at this announcement. But she quickly comes out of her torpor.
The children are entrusted to Frederic’s parents and Catherine jumps on a train to Paris. On the way, she understands. The shooting, “Charlie Hebdo”, the flight of the terrorists … She therefore takes the direction of the headquarters of the satirical newspaper, accompanied by a friend. “We passed the roadblocks, and we found a Red Cross crisis unit on the floor of 10 Nicolas Appert (XIth). I wanted to know what had happened to Frederic. I asked which hospital he was taken to. Nobody answers Catherine who is directed to the Forensic Institute (IML). But his companion is not there.
“I looked for Frederic everywhere. »That afternoon, Catherine will make two trips back and forth between rue Nicolas Appert and the IML, located in the 12th arrondissement. What his lawyer, Me Jean Reinhart, angrily qualifies as a “wiper” game. According to the penalist, this tossing between “hope and despair”, this “pain over pain”, uncertainty, “made the work of mourning his client more difficult”.
“I don’t move from here. I want to know, tell me! ”
While his wife waits, panics, hopes, Frederic Boisseau lies lifeless on the ground floor of 10 rue Nicolas Appert. “I was going upstairs, he was downstairs,” she shuddered again. It is a police officer at the end of the day who agrees to inform him. “I had to know, it was unmanageable. I told him I don’t move from here. I want to know, tell me! “I can confirm to you that he is deceased,” the official replied. Catherine learns the worst, plunges into pain and now bears the burden of having to pass the news on to her young boys and her in-laws.
At the funeral on January 20, Francois Rebsamen, Minister of Labor at the time noted that “the dead (Editor’s note: victims of “Charlie Hebdo”) did not all have the same echo “and underlines that” there is no hierarchy of penalties, no hierarchy of tributes. »Before decorating Frederic with the Legion of Honor posthumously. “Why wouldn’t he have had it when the others had it?” Catherine asks.
VIDEO. “Charlie Hebdo”: emotion at the funeral of Frederic Boisseau
For more than five years, the mother has held the bar for her sons. Today, she says, her boys are “balanced, continuing their education, are passionate about what they want to do.” But they did not plan to come to the trial.
This Tuesday, at the bar, before the special assize court, Catherine will therefore testify for her sons. But without having any illusions about this trial. “I’m not expecting much,” she finally let go after having searched for words for a long time. For her, the absence of the Kouachi brothers and Amedy Coulibaly is not important: “I think that if they were there, we would not know anything more. They wouldn’t say anything. It might have been even harder to see them. I don’t think I would have come, I wouldn’t have wanted to hear what they had to say. “
As for the fourteen defendants (of which only eleven are present in the box), suspected of having provided logistical support and weapons to the three killers: “They must be judged on the basis of what they did. It is a step to pass. But what we lost is not a verdict that will return it to us. “