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People leaving flowers outside the Bataclan theatre in the days following the attacks in 2015. Alamy Stock Photo
paris attacks

Belgium trial starts for alleged Paris attack accomplices

The 14 accused are suspected of transporting, housing or financially helping some of the perpetrators of the 2015 Paris attacks.

BELGIUM HAS OPENED a trial of 14 people alleged to have assisted jihadists who carried out deadly bomb and gun attacks in Paris in 2015.

Proceedings began under high security in NATO’s former headquarters and are expected to last until 20 May, with a verdict likely to take several more weeks.

The hearings were happening in parallel with a trial in Paris of 20 suspects charged in France in connection with the same killing spree. That trial opened in September and is expected to run until the end of June.

The November 2015 Paris attacks saw 130 people killed, with the Islamic State group claiming responsibility.

Assailants set off suicide belts outside the Stade de France stadium, as a group of gunmen in a car cut down people outside restaurants and bars. Three jihadists then killed 90 people attending a performance at Paris’s popular Bataclan music venue.

Part of the attack was planned in Belgium, according to prosecutors.

The 14 accused in the Belgian trial – 13 men and one woman – are suspected of transporting, housing or financially helping some of the perpetrators of the Paris attacks.

Charges include driving an alleged attacker to the airport for a trip to Syria.

Two of the suspects, both Belgians, are being tried in absentia. They are believed to have died in Syria.

Some of the suspects are close to Salah Abdeslam, a 32-year-old French national who is the only surviving suspected assailant after failing to set off his bomb belt. Abdeslam is on trial in Paris.

Prosecutors allege they had knowledge of the jihadist group’s intentions, or helped Abdeslam – who was living in the Brussels neighbourhood of Molenbeek – go to ground in the four months following the attacks that he was a fugitive.

© AFP 2022