Australia

Paris terror suspect Salah Abdeslam stands trial

  • Salah Abdeslam was flanked by armed police as he arrived at Palais de Justice
  • The 28-year-old told judge Marie-France Keutge: ‘I'm staying silent, it's my right'
  • The French passport holder of Moroccan background faces a 40 year sentence

By Peter Allen In Brussels For Mailonline

Published: 09:03 GMT, 5 February 2018 | Updated: 13:55 GMT, 5 February 2018

Morrocan-born Salah Abdeslam (pictured), 28, was flanked by armed police wearing balaclavas as he arrived at Palais de Justice

Morrocan-born Salah Abdeslam (pictured), 28, was flanked by armed police wearing balaclavas as he arrived at Palais de Justice

The only terrorist survivor of the murderous ISIS attack on Paris that killed 130 people today told a judge: ‘I am not afraid of you, I put my trust in Allah.'

Salah Abdeslam, 28, was flanked by two special-forces police officers brandishing machine guns and wearing balaclavas at the start of a trial in Brussels.

In hugely dramatic scenes at the Palais de Justice, the notorious jihadi told the judge: 'I'm not afraid of you, I place my trust in Allah. What I see is Muslims being judged and treated in the worst possible way.'

Abdeslam refused to stand and also invoked his right to prevent cameramen picturing or filming him in court.

If found guilty of terrorist charges along with 24-year-old Sofien Ayari, an alleged accomplice from Tunisia, he faces up to 40 years in prison.

Abdeslam was wearing a white jacket and thick black beard as he was led in front of judges, one of whom said: 'Confirm your identity. Are you Salah Abdelslam? Say who you are.'

In turn, the French passport holder from a Moroccan background who was brought up in Brussels, stared at the floor.

But later in proceedings, Marie-France Keutgen, the President of the judges bench, asked him why he refused to stand up in court.

‘I’m tired,’ Abdeslam replied, to which Keutgen said he should show some respect, and get off his seat.

Then Ms Keutgen asked the defendant why he had bothered turning up in the first place.

‘I've been asked to come, I'm here, I'm being accused, so I'm here,’ Abdeslam replied.

‘I'm staying silent, it's my right, it doesn’t make me a criminal. It’s my defence, that’s it. I want it to be based on scientific and tangible evidence.’

A courtroom sketch shows Salah Abdeslam (centre) prior to the opening of his trial at the Palais de JusticeA courtroom sketch shows Salah Abdeslam (centre) prior to the opening of his trial at the Palais de Justice

A courtroom sketch shows Salah Abdeslam (centre) prior to the opening of his trial at the Palais de Justice

Abdeslam was wearing a white jacket and thick black beard as he was led in front of judges

Abdeslam, a French passport holder from a Moroccan background, is accused of possession of weapons and attempted murder in a terrorist contextAbdeslam, a French passport holder from a Moroccan background, is accused of possession of weapons and attempted murder in a terrorist contextAbdeslam, a French passport holder from a Moroccan background, is accused of possession of weapons and attempted murder in a terrorist contextAbdeslam, a French passport holder from a Moroccan background, is accused of possession of weapons and attempted murder in a terrorist context

Abdeslam, a French passport holder from a Moroccan background, is accused of possession of weapons and attempted murder in a terrorist context

Dramatic video showed the moment Salah Abdeslam was captured in Brussels on 18 March 2016Dramatic video showed the moment Salah Abdeslam was captured in Brussels on 18 March 2016

Dramatic video showed the moment Salah Abdeslam was captured in Brussels on 18 March 2016

The failed suicide bomber and so-called 'quartermaster' of the November 13th 2015 massacre was captured in Belgium four months later.

Today's trial relates to a shoot-out with police in March 2016, with Abdeslam and Ayari accused of possession of weapons and attempted murder in a terrorist context.

There will be another process later this year or in 2019 in Paris, when Abdeslam will face trial in relation to the attacks in France.

Meanwhile, there were 200 armed officers inside the court building in Brussels alone today, where Abdeslam appeared inside the 90th Correctional Chamber.

It was the first time he has been seen in a public court since being shot in the leg during his dramatic capture.

The Paris attacks were on the Stade de France during a football international between France and Germany, bars, restaurants, and the Bataclan music venue, where 90 died.

Among the nine attackers involved was Abdeslam's brother, Brahim Abdeslam, 31, who blew himself up inside a packed restaurant.

Both men had run a bar in the Belgium capital, in the Molenbeek district where Salah Abdeslam was eventually found hiding on March 18th 2016.

The defendant was represented by Belgian lawyers Sven Mary (seen right) and Romain Delcoigne (seen left)The defendant was represented by Belgian lawyers Sven Mary (seen right) and Romain Delcoigne (seen left)

The defendant was represented by Belgian lawyers Sven Mary (seen right) and Romain Delcoigne (seen left)

Salah Abdeslam was the so-called 'quartermaster' of the 2015 massacre and played a major role in providing the arms and explosives used in the attackSalah Abdeslam was the so-called 'quartermaster' of the 2015 massacre and played a major role in providing the arms and explosives used in the attack

Salah Abdeslam was the so-called 'quartermaster' of the 2015 massacre and played a major role in providing the arms and explosives used in the attack

Abdeslam had run a bar in the Molenbeek district of the Belgian capitalAbdeslam had run a bar in the Molenbeek district of the Belgian capital

Abdeslam had run a bar in the Molenbeek district of the Belgian capital

Abdeslam (below) faces terrorism charges alongside 24-year-old Sofien Ayari (above) - an alleged accomplice from TunisiaAbdeslam (below) faces terrorism charges alongside 24-year-old Sofien Ayari (above) - an alleged accomplice from Tunisia

Abdeslam (below) faces terrorism charges alongside 24-year-old Sofien Ayari (above) – an alleged accomplice from Tunisia

Chairwoman of the court Marie-France Keutgen spoke during the opening of the first day of the trialChairwoman of the court Marie-France Keutgen spoke during the opening of the first day of the trial

Chairwoman of the court Marie-France Keutgen spoke during the opening of the first day of the trial

He allegedly targeted bars and cafes around the Stade de France during a football international between France and Germany. Pictured: Palais de Justice, BrusselsHe allegedly targeted bars and cafes around the Stade de France during a football international between France and Germany. Pictured: Palais de Justice, Brussels

He allegedly targeted bars and cafes around the Stade de France during a football international between France and Germany. Pictured: Palais de Justice, Brussels

Among those represented in court were three officers from the Franco-Belgian investigation team who were wounded during Abdeslam's captureAmong those represented in court were three officers from the Franco-Belgian investigation team who were wounded during Abdeslam's capture

Among those represented in court were three officers from the Franco-Belgian investigation team who were wounded during Abdeslam's capture

Armed Belgian policemen wearing balaclavas stood guard at the entrance of the courthouse in BrusselsArmed Belgian policemen wearing balaclavas stood guard at the entrance of the courthouse in Brussels

Armed Belgian policemen wearing balaclavas stood guard at the entrance of the courthouse in Brussels

He was then linked to another Isis attack in Brussels four days later – on March 22nd 2016 – when a total of 32 people were killed in coordinated suicide attacks on the city's airport and an underground train station.

Anti-terrorist judges and police were hoping the trial today would shed light on the way groups like Isis operate in Europe, but Abdeslam is adamant that he will not cooperate.

Tight secrecy have surrounded plans for transferring Abdeslam from Paris to the Palais de Justice in Brussels, and then back to a prison just across the border in northern France every night.

French and Belgian forces are taking joint responsibility for escorting the defendant from France's Vendin-le-Vieil prison.

In Brussels, police are reportedly guarding a building with a surface area greater than that of Saint Peter's Basilica in Rome.

French police officers escorted a convoy which carried Paris attacks defendant Salah Abdeslam to courtFrench police officers escorted a convoy which carried Paris attacks defendant Salah Abdeslam to court

French police officers escorted a convoy which carried Paris attacks defendant Salah Abdeslam to court

His transportation over the border from France to Brussels has been subject to tight secrecyHis transportation over the border from France to Brussels has been subject to tight secrecy

His transportation over the border from France to Brussels has been subject to tight secrecy

Emergency services were called to the Bataclan theater in Paris after reports of a shootingEmergency services were called to the Bataclan theater in Paris after reports of a shooting

Emergency services were called to the Bataclan theater in Paris after reports of a shooting

Wounded people were evacuated from the Stade de France after explosions were reportedWounded people were evacuated from the Stade de France after explosions were reported

Wounded people were evacuated from the Stade de France after explosions were reported

As many as 90 people were killed inside the Bataclan theatre during a performance by rock band Eagles of Death MetalAs many as 90 people were killed inside the Bataclan theatre during a performance by rock band Eagles of Death Metal

As many as 90 people were killed inside the Bataclan theatre during a performance by rock band Eagles of Death Metal

Among those represented in court today were three officers belonging to the Franco-Belgian investigation team who were wounded during Abdeslam's capture.

The civil parties also include victims of the Brussels bombings, who asked to be included in proceedings at the last minute.

This led to Sven Mary, Abdeslam's lawyer, asking for adjournment. It was discussed by the bench, as the two defendants were briefly led out of the dock.

The trial continues.

Original Article

Leave a Reply