decisive step before the future Belgian trial

Belgian justice ruled Wednesday on the dismissal of twenty suspects suspected of having transported, accommodated or helped the attackers of the Bataclan and the Stade de France.

Belgian justice rules on Wednesday February 24 on the referral to court of alleged accomplices of jihadist commandos who attacked Paris in November 2015, with a view to a trial which could be held at the end of the year in Brussels. They are twenty suspects who were not retained in the French legal procedure, but are suspected of having transported, accommodated or materially assisted the attackers from Belgian soil. These attacks, claimed by the Islamic State (IS) organization, left 130 dead in Paris and in the neighboring town of Saint-Denis on the evening of November 13, 2015.

In an order expected in the morning, the council chamber of the Brussels court must rule on the degree of involvement of these twenty defendants and say whether or not it follows the requisitions of the federal prosecutor’s office. During the hearing on February 2, already held in camera, the prosecution requested referral to the criminal court, for “Participation in the activities of a terrorist group”, of twelve of them. Five dismissals were also claimed for lack of sufficient charges, two referrals to correctional for offenses deemed secondary (possession of weapons, forgery) and, finally, a “disjunction” so that the proceedings against the last accused are joined. to another matter.

A file called “Paris bis”

The attacks of November 13, 2015, prepared in large part in Belgium, where the attackers had several hideouts, very quickly led to the opening of an investigation by the anti-terrorism justice in Brussels. In this case called “Paris Bis”, the investigators targeted all forms of support provided to the authors. Including Salah Abdeslam, the only surviving member of the commandos who struck Paris, whose runaway lasted four months, until his arrest in the Belgian capital on March 18, 2016.

One of the suspects, Abid Aberkane, is suspected of hiding the fugitive jihadist at his mother’s home in the last days before the arrest. The others also gravitated in the entourage of Abdeslam, of his friend Mohamed Abrini – “the man in the hat”, who gave up blowing himself up at the time of the attacks in Brussels on March 22, 2016 -, or in that of the brothers Ibrahim and Khalid El Bakraoui, two of the suicide bombers who died in this double attack perpetrated by the same jihadist cell and which left 32 dead.

Two of the accused could be tried in their absence because they were never arrested and probably died in Syria, even if the Belgian justice has no formal proof. They are Sammy Djedou, announced dead by the Pentagon in December 2016, and Youssef Bazarouj, another Belgian suspected of having been associated in Syria with the ISIS external operations cell. He was also reportedly killed in the war zone.

After the referral decision to the court, which is subject to appeal, the trial scheduled in Brussels could take place at the end of the year, at the same time as that in Paris since the protagonists are not the same. In the French proceedings, twenty people have been referred to the Special Assize Court in Paris, where the trial is due to open on September 8, 2021 and last around six months.

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