Salah Abdeslam, the lone surviving suspect in the 2015 Paris terror attacks, goes on trial at a Belgian court on Monday where he will face charges of terrorism, attempted murder and possession of firearms.
Abdeslam was arrested in 2016 from the Brussels suburb of Molenbeek following a gunfight with police. If convicted, he will face up to 40 years in prison.
The courthouse is under tight security, with more than 100 police officials guarding it for the four days the trial is expected to last. According to reports, Abdeslam will return to France, where he was imprisoned, every night during the trial.
Refusal to talk
Abdeslam has shown no inclination to talk all the time he has been imprisoned, and hopes are high that the 28-year-old will shed new insight into the Paris attacks.
Abdeslam’s reluctance to break his silence had resulted in two lawyers expressing their reluctance to represent him, saying his silence made defense impossible. In 2016, Abdeslam’s brother Mohamed addressed his sibling’s reluctance to talk, saying the difficult conditions of his detention may have forced him to withdraw into himself.
“His incarceration, the extremely difficult conditions of his detention, his withdrawal into himself; I sometimes have the impression he is more radicalised now, rather than de-radicalised,” Mohamed told France’s RTL Radio.
He also said he wanted to know “exactly what had happened before and after” the Paris attacks.
‘Wanted to Die’
On November 2015, a series of attacks took place in Paris, killing a total of 130 people. Minutes after three explosions rocks the Stade de France stadium there were shootings and bombings around bars and restaurants in the centre of the town. The worst attack occurred at the Bataclan concert hall, where 89 people were killed.
Abdeslam reportedly wanted to die the same night, but his plan failed when his suicide vest did not detonate.
Brahim Abdeslam, his brother, died carrying out the attack.
Shortly after the attacks, Brahim’s mother said there were signs her son had been radicalised.
“We even saw him two days before the attacks. There were no signs that they has plans to do anything violent,” she told Het Laatste Nieuws. “We were really surprised that Salah was involved. Brahim was different. We did see that he had been radicalised, at least in part. But not so much that we ever thought he would commit an atrocity like this.”
“This was not his plan, that’s for sure. The fact that his suicide belt exploded without killing anyone says a lot,” she added.