Bataclan murders: a mother remembers the day the sun went out
Wednesday's Paris terror trial hearing opened with evidence from Luciana Milani Solesin, the mother of Italian national Valeria Solesin, who was murdered by Islamists at the Bataclan concert hall in the French capital on 13 November, 2015.
Behind the dignified grief at the loss of a radiant, beloved daughter, the court heard a calm plea for cosmopolitan solidarity in the face of barbarity.
"Valeria was a happy person," her mother told the special criminal court. Her nickname was "Il Sole," – the sun, a source of warmth, energy and light. She was also beautiful and brilliant, a PhD in population studies teaching at the Sorbonne University.
"She was full of laughter and joy. Even today, her memory helps us."
Valeria was 28 years old on the night she died in the kamikaze attack on the Bataclan, a venue her mother had never heard of until an Italian newsreader interrupted the TV programme in the Solesin household in Venice with news of the attacks in Paris.
Valeria had been living in the French capital since 2010, working to finish her doctoral thesis, hopping home regularly to visit the family on the other side of the Alps.
"We were concerned. We started to make calls. We could get no information. But I knew, almost immediately that Valeria was dead. When the official news came through, our lives were changed forever."
Life after Valeria
"And now I want to tell you about our second lives. There was a memorial ceremony for Valeria in Venice, with the Bishop, the Chief Rabbi, an Imam ... everyone condemned the violence.
"Humanity is diminished by murder in the name of religion. People of 19 different nationalities died in the Paris attacks – more if you include the injured. They attacked France, they attacked Europe, they attacked our world of freedom and tolerance.
"This trial is very important. I'm looking for answers, without much hope that I'll find them. But we, the civil witnesses, are here as a guarantee of democratic values.
"Words are important. One of the accused has told us that the attacks were not personal. But what does that make the individuals who died? Puppets? One hundred and thirty human beings were killed. For what?
"We have to have the courage to live our lives as they are. I'm here to testify so that the suffering of the bereaved can be registered as part of history.
"It is important that you give room to the personal stories.