“Arnaud Beltrame avoided a bloodbath, I have infinite pain for his wife” admits Julie, the hostage he saved

“Arnaud Beltrame avoided a bloodbath, I have infinite pain for his wife” admits Julie, the hostage he saved

Le colonel Arnaud Beltrame a échangé sa vie contre celle de Julie entre les mains du terroriste. MAXPPP – BOYER Claude

Julie Grand, cashier at the Super U in Trèbes, had the barrel of the terrorist's weapon against her head when Colonel Arnaud Beltrame offered to be his hostage in his place. Six years later, she published a work on the impact of this terrible scene, which is also a tribute to the gendarmerie officer, killed two hours later.

"It sounds crazy to say that I'm still in a state of panic, no ? But it's true." On the phone, the voice is blank, interspersed with silences. Julie Grand, 46 years old, admits:"Today I am very tired. My daily life has calmed down, I got married, life should be easy, and it is now that I realize the after-effects I am carrying. I have nightmares, I have difficulty concentrating, my memory is failing. And I always imagine the worst: I fight against this feeling of the catastrophe that will fall on me."

The disaster was on March 23, 2018, when Redouane Lakdim took her hostage for nearly an hour at the Super U in Trèbes, where Julie was a cashier, after killing two people. "The time spent alone with the terrorist was very intense. I stopped myself from being scared, because fear prevents me from thinking. "A management engineer, she applied her memories of training in communication in difficult situations. "I concentrate on my gestures and my breathing, about what I can and cannot say. It took a long time to tell myself, I'm going to go through this… This is where the bullets are going to pass through my body ? Will the doctors be able to tell me make survive ?"

As she tries to lure the terrorist towards the entrance of the supermarket, hoping that a sniper can catch him ;eliminating, everything tenses up with the arrival of a first column of gendarmes. "It's become extremely tense and violent, to the point that the bullets were going to fly". She feels the barrel of the terrorist's gun shaking against her skull. "And that's where Arnaud Beltrame intervened, to avoid a bloodbath." A clear voice: "Screw your mouth, step back, I'll take it." And this exchange with Lakdim. "Release the little lady, she has nothing to do with it. I represent the State, take me in its place."

Julie assures him: "I saw that he was a good negotiator who chose his words carefully, who had guts and a lot of know-how in his mission which was to protect. He had professional skills that could have saved his life and a better chance than me of coming out alive. But things did not turn out well, and he was assassinated."

A weight that has weighed on his life ever since. “I don't have raw, immediate guilt. It's finer and more tortuous than that. I have infinite pain when I think of his wife. I felt like I owed her this public testimony, with my book*." While she was an atheist, Julie recently found faith at the Abbey of Lagrasse, in Aude, the same place where Marielle and Arnaud Beltrame were to be married religiously, in summer 2018.

"When I panic, I pray. On a daily basis, I find great peace there". Will she find the strength to attend this long trial ? "I will attend  at ends, if I have the guts. I still need to understand how he prepared his move. Find out if the choice of Super U was a coincidence. I can't ignore the unanswered questions."

*His life for mine, Julie Grand, Artège, 175 p. 17 € I subscribe to read more

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