Paris attacks suspect to go on trial in Belgium

Written By: BBC/Beth Nyaga

Salah Abdeslam will go on trial in Belgium over the 2015 terror attacks in Paris

The sole surviving suspect from the 2015 Paris terror attacks is due to go on trial amid tight security in Belgium.

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 gun fight 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.

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

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

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.

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.

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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. Reports say he has left the prison for Brussels under armed guard.

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.

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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.
  • Minutes later, several people were killed as shootings and bombings took place around bars and restaurants, including the cafe-bar Le Carillon, in the centre of town.
  • The worst attack of the night occurred at the Bataclan concert hall. Eighty-nine people were killed as attackers with suicide belts fired assault rifles into the crowd.
  • Salah Abdeslam was the only attacker to escape but he was captured in Brussels the following March.

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