It is not only in Paris that the trial of the attacks committed in the French capital on November 13, 2015 is being held. That of fourteen alleged accomplices of jihadist commandos will take place in Belgium before the Brussels Criminal Court. Initially scheduled for mid-March, it was finally postponed by one month to April 19, 2022 and should last about a month, the federal prosecutor’s office said on Thursday. A calendar that falls a little before the end of the Paris trial, scheduled for the end of May 2022.
It is a question of judging suspects not retained in the French legal procedure but suspected by Belgium of having helped the perpetrators of the attacks which killed 130 people. The fourteen defendants, most of whom must answer for “participation in the activities of a terrorist group”, are suspected in particular of having transported or accommodated certain attackers.
A file called “Paris Bis”
Prepared in large part in Belgium, where the jihadist cell had half a dozen hideouts, the attacks very quickly led to the opening of an investigation by the anti-terrorism justice in Brussels.
In this case called “Paris Bis”, the investigators targeted all forms of support for the perpetrators. Including Salah Abdeslam, the only surviving member of the commandos who struck Paris, currently on trial in the French capital with 19 other defendants in the main trial.
Two of the suspects never arrested, probably dead in Syria
One of the suspects in the Brussels proceedings, Abid Aberkane, will be tried for hiding Salah Abdeslam at his mother’s home the last days before his arrest on March 18, 2016 in Molenbeek. The other defendants also gravitated in the entourage of the Franco-Moroccan jihadist, his friend Mohamed Abrini – “the man in the hat” who gave up blowing himself up at the time of the Brussels attacks (32 dead on March 22, 2016) – , or in the entourage of the brothers Ibrahim and Khalid El Bakraoui, two of the “suicide bombers” who died in this double attack perpetrated by the same jihadist cell. One of the Abrini brothers is among the defendants.
Among these 14 suspects, two should be tried in their absence because they have never been arrested and probably died in Syria, even though Belgian justice has no formal proof. They are Sammy Djedou, whose death was announced by the Pentagon in December 2016, and Youssef Bazarouj, another Belgian suspected of having been associated in Syria with Daesh’s external operations cell. He was also reportedly killed in a war zone.