Salah Abdeslam is in prison awaiting trial for his involvement in the terror-related attacks that rocked Paris in November 2015. In the meantime, he is involved in court proceedings in Belgium for events preceding his 2016 arrest. But he’s refusing to speak.
Salah Abdeslam is the only surviving suspect in the 2015 ISIS attacks in Paris, France. Now he is refusing to answer any questions as one of his trials begins, which came as a complete surprise to the judge, jury, and even his own lawyer.
When the judge entered the courthouse, Abdeslam did not stand as is customary. When everything was settled, the judge asked Abdeslam to rise and identify himself; he said, “I do not wish to answer questions.”
Then Abdeslam went on to say that, “my silence does not make me a criminal, it’s my defence.” He also added that Muslims were “judged and treated in the worst of ways, mercilessly.”
Abdeslam had strong words for the prosecution in his case, saying not to “swagger about to satisfy public opinion,” and encouraged them to make a judgment based on “forensic and tangible evidence.”
Accusations Against Salah Abdeslam
Abdeslam is believed to have been a significant player in the Paris attacks of 2015, in which 130 people were killed and more than 400 others were injured. However, the current trial is not related to charges from these events.
The trial for the incident in Paris is expected to take place in 2019. This current trial is related to events that took place in March 2016. Abdeslam is alleged to have been involved in a shootout with police in Brussels, Belgium. The shooting began when a Molenbeek district apartment was raided by police as part of a larger raid searching for Abdeslam and other suspects. One suspect was wounded at that apartment and arrested. Abdeslam fled.
However, he was captured at another location in Brussels a few days later.
The charges that are in front of him are the attempted murder of a police officer (as a terrorist-related charge) and the possession of an illegal weapon. Abdeslam is facing the same charges as his alleged accomplice, Sofien Ayari.
The prosecutor in the case, Kathleen Grosjean, is looking to give the maximum prison time of 20 years to both men.
Before this trial started, Abdeslam was being held in a prison near Paris, France. To attend his trial in Belgium, he has been moved to a prison inside the country, very close to the France border.
In order to ensure that everything runs smoothly, a team of tactical police officers accompanies him when he is on the move from the courthouse to the prison. In addition, there will be up to 200 police officers in and around the courthouse throughout the trial.
Will Silence Hurt or Help Abdeslam?
The European Convention on Human Rights protects the defendant’s decision to remain silent. However, his decision can also be taken into consideration along with the prosecution’s evidence against him in the case.
And, because other suspects have cooperated with the investigators, there is still evidence that can be used against Salah Abdeslam, even if he does not speak.
The victims in the Paris attacks and their families will want answers, though, so it’s hoped that Abdeslam will not continue with his decision to remain silent in his next trial.