Paris attacks suspect tried in Belgium over shootout

Elite forces will guard the 28-year-old’s transfer from a jail near the French capital to the trial, while hundreds of Belgian security forces will protect the court building. Abdeslam, a Belgian-born French national of Moroccan descent, is charged with “attempting to murder several police officers in a terrorist context” and of “carrying prohibited weapons in a terrorist context”. The charges concern a gunbattle in the Belgian capital on March 15, 2016, four months after the Paris attacks, which led to his capture days later. Three police officers were wounded and a fellow jihadist was killed. Abdeslam and the man arrested with him, Tunisian national Sofiane Ayari, 24, could serve up to 40 years in prison if convicted. The trial is the prelude to a later one in France and prosecutors hope the Brussels trial will yield clues not only about the attacks that killed 130 people in Paris but also the suicide bombings months later in Brussels. Abdeslam has refused point-blank to speak to investigators throughout the nearly two years since his arrest, which capped a four-month hunt for Europe’s most wanted man. But he has insisted on attending the Brussels trial, which is expected to last four days, raising the question of whether he will use it to break his silence. Belgium’s federal prosecutor Frederic Van Leeuw said “it is important for the victims” that the trial yield clues behind the two attacks. Massive security Tight secrecy surrounds the plans for transferring Abdeslam from Paris to the Palais de Justice in… [Read full story]

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