“We would have liked to know”: the court faced with the silence of Osama Krayem at the trial of the attacks of November 13

JUSTICE – The interrogation of Swede Osama Krayem, 29, came down to questions and readings on Thursday. This defendant carried explosives during the attacks in Brussels and is suspected of having participated in the preparation of the attacks in Paris.

After his refusal to appear since November 25, he respected his “decision not to speak anymore”. This Thursday, at the trial of the attacks of November 13, 2015, Osama Krayem, 29, said only seven words. To the question of the president of the special assize court Jean-Louis Périès: “Do you have a statement to make?”, the accused, shoulder-length black hair, thick beard under a surgical mask, black sweatshirt, answers: “No” and adds: “I won’t answer questions.”

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The extraordinary trial of the attacks of November 13

Thursday, January 6, Me Durand-Poincloux, one of his advisers, had read a letter in which he wrote in particular: “At first, I wanted to speak in front of this court (…) I saw how the proceedings were going and I lost hope. No one is looking for the truth, no one is here to understand. (…) We are all pretending, this trial is an illusion”.

This day, therefore, the president was content to read the minutes of the hearing of the accused, asking him all the same questions about religion, his radicalization, his stay in Syria, the Islamic State … “We would have liked to know”, “we would like to know your answer”, he repeated like others several times. In vain, the accused made use of his right to silence.

“Eye for eye, tooth for tooth”

Arrested on April 8, 2016 in Belgium, Osama Krayem was to be a suicide bomber in the Brussels metro but had finally given up. He then claimed to have thrown his explosives in a toilet. He was also Salah Abdeslam’s companion on the run in Brussels after the November 13 attacks. He is also suspected of having planned an attack at Schiphol airport in Amsterdam (Netherlands) on the day of the attacks in Paris and Saint-Denis.

“On the attacks in France, you say that you find it sad and you say that if there had been no French intervention in Syria, there would have been no attacks in France. You say that it’s eye for eye, tooth for tooth, it’s like a response from Muslims even if you say you don’t condone the attacks”, President reports. The accused does not comment.

“You say to your brother: ‘The disbelievers are our enemies, hate them but don’t show it.’ prophet, is death’. You say that for you the law of the Islamic State is stronger than that made by humans. There, I would like to ask you a question.” Ssilence.

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Then Jean-Louis Périès recalls that the accused left for Syria on August 17, 2014, the day after his birthday. He was 22 years old. He will return to Europe by the migrant route, via Greece, in mid-September 2015. “You first spoke of humanitarian work and then you said that you had undergone a month of religious education and military training. You say that you were recruited by the Islamic State. We would have liked to ask you about the circumstances of this training and who you met on this occasion”, continues the magistrate. No response, again.

Osama Krayem was also identified among the fighters witnessing the execution of the Jordanian pilot Maaz al-Kassasbeh, captured by the Islamic State and burned alive in a cage. An unbearable scene that had been filmed.

“He is someone who has a lot of humanity”

How and why did this Swede, son of a Syrian and a Palestinian refugee in Sweden, who went to school, who worked, who loved football, the cinema, and seeing friends, switch in this way ? Nor will the accused say anything about it.

His brother and sister who were to come and testify never responded to the summonses. In the minutes of the hearing read by the president, his younger brother, Anas, describes him as “a person with a big heart”, “quiet, shy, more fearful than adventurous”. Her older sister Asma says, she, “how nice he is”, “that he thinks of others, shows respect”, “that everyone loves him”.

The only witness to be heard at the hearing, a 64-year-old volunteer, Pierre-Jean S. He gave French lessons to Osama Krayem in prison in Belgium from March 2017 to spring 2021 before the latter was transferred to France . He too paints the portrait of a man as opposed to a terrorist. Together they read “a comic strip of Tintin, The broken ear“, then The Little Prince by Saint-Exupéry. “Leaving aside the horrible things he has done, Mr. Krayem is someone who has a lot of humanity”, said the witness, provoking strong reactions in the room.

Me Chemla, a civil party lawyer, cannot help but react: “You say that Mr. Krayem was full of humanity. How do you explain that when we know the facts he committed?” “A person from the prison told me that Krayem was someone full of humanity. ‘He did it by going to join Syria, the Islamic State.” Then he adds: “I thought a lot about a song by Jean-Jacques Goldman ‘Né en 17 à Leidenstadt’ and these words: ‘Would I have been better or worse than these people, if I had been German?’.”

The hearing will resume Friday at 12:30 p.m.

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