The sole surviving suspect in the 2015 Paris terrorist attacks that left 130 people dead refused to stand or answer questions as his trial in a Belgian court opened today.
“I’m not afraid of you,” Salah Abdeslam told the court, according to The Daily Telegraph. “Let them base their case on forensic and tangible evidence, and not swagger about to satisfy public opinion... Muslims are judged and treated in the worst kind of ways. They are judged without mercy. There is no presumption of innocence, there’s nothing.”
Abdeslam - once Europe’s most wanted man - is charged with attempted murder related to a 2016 police shoot-out in Brussels, during which three officers were injured, shortly before his arrest. It was the 28-year-old’s first public appearance in two years.
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The Belgian prosecution is a prelude to a trial in France. Investigators hope it will yield clues about not only the Paris attacks but also suicide bombings months later in Brussels, says Al Arabiya English. Extremists struck in the Belgian city days after Abdeslam’s arrest, killing 32 people.
French prosecutors believe Abdeslam played a key role in the Paris attacks, in which gunmen and bombers targeted a concert hall, stadium, restaurants and bars, the BBC reports.
A second defendant, Sofiane Ayari, is also on trial. The judge’s questions sought to establish which of the two had opened fire during the police shoot-out.
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