Paris attack suspect stays away for defense
The trial of Salah Abdeslam resumed in Belgium yesterday, but the last surviving Paris attacks suspect was absent after he refused to return to court.
Abdeslam’s lawyers plan to launch his defense in their client’s absence on the second day of the trial.
Abdeslam’s show of defiance comes after he accused judges of being anti-Muslim, said he would not answer questions and proclaimed he put his “trust in Allah” on the first day of the high-security trial on Feb. 5.
The court said he had refused to return from the French jail where he is being held for the resumption of the trial, which is over a shootout with police in Brussels in March 2016 that led to his arrest.
His lawyer, Sven Mary, told the court on Feb. 8 that he would to continue to represent him, an AFP journalist in the courtroom reported.
“Yes, Madame,” the lawyer replied when asked by the chief judge, Marie-France Keutgen, if he still wished to defend his client.
Mary has given no indication of the line he intends to take in defense of a client whom he has previously criticized for refusing to talk to investigators.
“We’re preparing it,” Mary’s associate lawyer Romain Delcoigne told AFP.
Abdeslam’s co-defendant Sofiane Ayari, a 24-year-old Tunisian, is now expected to appear alone in the dock at the Palais de Justice for the second and possibly final day of the trial.
The Belgian trial is a prelude to a bigger one that Abdeslam will face in France at a later date over the Nov. 13, 2015, Paris attacks claimed by the Islamic Stateof Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), in which 130 people were killed.