Brussels bombing accused Abdeslam denounces ‘unfair’ trial

3. Brussels Trial
A courthouse sketch made on September 12, 2022 shows Sofiane Ayari in the dock at the Brussels courthouse during the preliminary hearing in trial of suspects in the March 2016 terrorist attacks. (Photo: AFP)

BRUSSELS — French terrorist Salah Abdeslam, already jailed for his role in the 2015 Paris attacks, refused to take the stand Monday on the first day of the trial for the 2016 suicide bombings in Brussels.اضافة اعلان

He was one of the nine alleged members of the Daesh cell that launched both the March 2016 suicide bombings in Belgium and the November 2015 attacks in Paris facing terrorism charges in the Belgian capital.

“The way in which you are treating us is unfair,” the 32-year-old told the presiding judge, leaving the dock a few minutes after the start of the first hearing in a trial due to last at least eight months.

The Belgian attacks, in which three suicide bombers hit Brussels airport and a crowded underground metro station, killed 32 people and shattered the lives of hundreds of wounded or traumatized survivors.

A tenth suspect, presumed killed while fighting in Syria, will be tried in absentia.

“Here we are like dogs,” shouted Tunisian Sofien Ayari, an accomplice in Abdeslam’s escape, banging his fist on the wall of the box-like dock constructed in the purpose-built court.

‘Like dogs’

While he had initially expressed the wish to attend the hearing, Abdeslam, in a blue and white striped polo shirt, changed his mind when he saw that Mohamed Abrini, Ayari, and other co-defendants were being escorted out.

Abdeslam’s complaint focused on the conditions in which he and the other defendants appeared in court, in glass-enclosed cubicles that keep them away from their lawyers and limit communication between them.

The trial is the largest ever staged in front of a Belgian jury, with 960 civil plaintiffs represented and the sprawling former headquarters of the NATO military alliance converted into a high-security court complex.

After Monday’s preliminary hearing, the court will sit again on October 10 to choose 12 jurors and 24 potential substitutes. Evidential hearings will begin on October 13 and last at least until June next year.

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