In Brussels, a revolt of the accused threatens again the progress of the trial of the attacks of March 2016

Once the thorny question of the glass boxes which isolated the nine defendants from their lawyers and the difficult appointment of the popular jury had been settled, the president, Laurence Massart, finally hoped to really start the trial of the March 2016 attacks in Brussels, Monday, December 5. It will have done everything to achieve this and not to accumulate other delays – the debates should have started several weeks ago already.

A rebellion by some of the accused against their conditions of detention and transportation to this assize court sitting exceptionally in the former buildings of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), on the outskirts of the city, could jeopardize the projects of the magistrate. Their defenders demanded an easing of the strict measures imposed on their clients, failing which, they announced, they will introduce appeals which would lead to a new suspension of the hearing.

Monday, Mme Massart intended to deliver a very educational presentation to the twelve effective members of the jury and their twenty-four substitutes (three of the latter have already invoked reasons for no longer sitting). “Don’t worry, if you’re a little lost, it’s normalinsisted the president. But forget what you saw in the American series, here it will be very different. »


She painstakingly detailed the task awaiting these citizens, the vast majority of whom have never set foot in a courthouse but have suddenly discovered the three hundred boxes summarizing the investigation, an indictment of five hundred pages, the list of 957 civil parties and the “PACs” – exhibits – exposed before their eyes: weapons, an Islamic State flag, large nuts that were to be placed in other bombs than those killed 32 people at Zaventem airport and Maelbeek metro station. Or, a twisted piece of metal, extracted from the oar destroyed by the machine carried by a suicide bomber.

“My client has to undress every morning and undergo an anal examination in front of three hooded police officers”
Me Jonathan De Taye, lawyer for Ali El Haddad Asufi

Advocating serenity and inviting the rejection of the notion of revenge, the president then had to know what she calls the “live hazards”. In this case an arrest of Mohamed Abrini, “the man in the hat”, a close friend of Salah Abdeslam, who, twice, in Paris and Zaventem, gave up in extremis to participate in the actions of the commandos. “Revenge, I have suffered it for seven years. The conditions under which we are transferred to here are pitiful. If these humiliations continue, I won’t answer any more questions. In France, we were respected”said this defendant, one of the five who have already been sentenced in Paris, in June.

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