(Brussels) Salah Abdeslam and seven other men found guilty of participation or complicity in the March 2016 attacks in Brussels must be sentenced at the end of the day on Friday, after a nine-month trial.
“The judgment relating to the sentences is scheduled for today at 6 p.m.” (12 p.m. Eastern time), indicated the Court of Appeal of the Belgian capital.
Salah Abdeslam, who turns 34 this Friday, risks a new life prison sentence if the Assize Court follows the requisitions of the federal prosecutor’s office.
The only surviving member of the commandos who attacked Paris on November 13, 2015 (130 dead), this Frenchman who grew up in Brussels was sentenced in June 2022 in France to irreducible life imprisonment for his participation in these attacks.
In the Brussels trial, opened in December 2022, the prosecution requested a total of six life sentences, for all the defendants found guilty at the end of July of “assassinations in a terrorist context”.
In addition to Abdeslam, those concerned are Mohamed Abrini, “the man in the hat” who accompanied the two jihadists who died in suicide bombings at Brussels-Zaventem airport, as well as Osama Krayem, Ali El Haddad Asufi, Bilal El Makhoukhi and Oussama Atar. .
The latter, emir of the Islamic State group who led the jihadist cell, was tried in absentia because he is presumed to have died in Syria in 2017.
Two other defendants, Sofien Ayari and Hervé Bayingana Muhirwa, guilty of “participation in the activities of a terrorist group”, risk a maximum of ten years in prison.
On the morning of March 22, 2016, two men blew themselves up in the departure hall of Zaventem airport and a third, an hour later, in a metro train at Maelbeek station. Results: 32 dead and hundreds injured.
But the Assize Court counted 35 deaths, estimating that three deaths that occurred later had a direct link to the explosions.
Salah Abdeslam denies his participation, arguing that he was in prison on the day of the events. He was arrested on March 18, 2016 in Molenbeek.
He was nevertheless considered a co-perpetrator, because he shared the daily life of the members of the cell withdrawn to Brussels after the Paris attacks, and provided “indispensable assistance” to these suicide attacks, the court ruled.
A subject of intense controversy with the defense, the prosecution also demanded five stripping of Belgian nationality in this trial: for Atar, Abrini and two other Belgian-Moroccans, as well as for the Belgian-Rwandan Hervé Bayingana Muhirwa.