Paris attacks suspect goes on trial in Belgium
Brussels, Feb. 5 (IANS): The trial of the sole surviving suspect from the 2015 Paris terror attacks began on Monday at a Belgian court here over the gun fight that led to his arrest.
Salah Abdeslam, 28, was escorted by two masked police officers, and refused to stand when requested to, reports the BBC.
“I do not wish to answer any questions,” Abdeslam said when asked to confirm his identity. He has refused to speak to investigators since his arrest on March 18, 2016.
Judge Marie-France Keutgen told the court that the suspect had also refused to have photos or video taken of him during the court proceedings.
The charges Abdeslam now faces are not related to events in Paris, but to a shootout he had with police while on the run in Belgium.
Abdeslam, a French citizen born to Moroccan parents in Brussels, and his suspected accomplice Sofian Ayari, 24, are accused of possessing illegal weapons and the attempted murder of police officers in a terrorist context.
The men allegedly fought a gun battle with officers who raided the flat where they were holed up in the Belgian capital.
If found guilty, they face up to 40 years in prison, the BBC reported.
Abdeslam became Europe’s most wanted man after the Paris attacks on November 13, 2015, where gunmen and suicide bombers targeted a concert hall, stadium, restaurants and bars, killing 130 people and injuring hundreds more.
Abdeslam’s brother, Brahim, was among the attackers and died in a suicide blast outside a cafe.
Abdeslam has been held at a jail near Paris. He left the prison under armed guard in the early hours of Monday, accompanied by tactical police vehicles, reports the BBC.
He will return to France every night during the trial, but will be held at another jail just across the border.
The trial is expected to last four days.