Salah Abdeslam: Paris attacks suspect goes on trial in Belgium


A court artist drawing shows Salah Abdeslam, one of the suspects in the 2015 Islamic State attacks in Paris, in court during his trial in BrusselsImage copyright
Reuters

The sole surviving suspect from the 2015 Paris terror attacks has gone on trial at a Belgian court over the gun fight that led to his arrest.

Salah Abdeslam was captured in Brussels four months after the attacks.

The charges he faces are not related to events in Paris but to a shootout with police while on the run in Belgium.

The attacks by gunmen and suicide bombers on a Paris concert hall, stadium, restaurants and bars left 130 people dead and hundreds more wounded.

Among the attackers was Abdeslam’s brother, Brahim, who died in a suicide blast outside a cafe.

French prosecutors believe Salah Abdeslam, 28, also played a key role in the attacks but he has refused to co-operate with investigators.

Image copyright
AFP

Image caption

Extra police have been drafted in to guard the court in Brussels

Long haired and bearded, he entered the court escorted by two masked police officers wearing balaclavas.

He is not expected to go on trial in France until 2020 at the earliest.

Following the attacks, Salah Abdeslam became Europe’s most wanted man and was eventually found hiding in a flat in his home district of Molenbeek in Brussels.

Image copyright
Belgian/French police

Image caption

Abdeslam was arrested in March 2016 after a shootout with police in Brussels

In the trial opening on Monday, Abdeslam and suspected accomplice Sofian Ayari, 24, face charges 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.

Abdeslam, a French citizen born to Moroccan parents in Brussels, 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.

He will return to France every night during the trial, but will be held at another jail just across the border.

Up to 200 police will be guarding the courthouse for the trial, which is expected to last four days.

What happened in the Paris attacks?

  • Three explosions outside the Stade de France stadium in the north of Paris on 13 November 2015 as suicide attackers were prevented from entering.



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