Trial starts for 14 accused of aiding 2015 Paris attackers

Extremists killed 130 people in string of co-ordinated shootings and bombings

Attacks in Paris in November 2015 killed 130 people. AP

Fourteen people went on trial in Belgium on Tuesday accused of helping extremists carry out gun and bomb attacks across Paris in which 130 people were killed.

The 13 men and one woman are accused of assisting ISIS fighters on November 13, 2015, and of continuing to support the sole attacker who survived and returned to Brussels.

An international football match at the Stade de France, restaurants and a concert at the Bataclan music venue were targets of the onslaughts.

Nine accused were present on Tuesday, of whom seven sat at the front of the court and two were led by guards to closed glass boxes. Two accused are believed to have died in Syria.

The trial is taking place in Brussels, in the former headquarters of Nato, with heightened security. Armed police guarded the entrance and patrolled the vast building’s corridors and perimeter.

Twelve of the accused face charges of leading a terrorist group or participating in terrorist activities, with potential prison terms of up to 15 and five years respectively.

Prosecutors say they helped attackers to travel to Syria or supplied them with arms.

Some are accused of secretly housing Salah Abdeslam, 32, the French citizen of Moroccan origin who is now the main suspect.

Abdeslam hid in Brussels for four months until his capture, four days before a twin attack in Brussels that killed 32 people.

Two of the group face non-terrorist charges. One is accused of handling arms and explosive material, the other of having supplied false documents to perpetrators of the Paris attacks and bombings at Brussels’ airport and metro in March 2016.

The presiding judge asked the accused present to confirm their names, dates of birth and addresses before one of set of defence lawyers sought to have the case against his client dismissed. The case was then adjourned.

The hearings are scheduled to run until May 20, with rulings expected by the end of June.

Updated: April 19, 2022, 2:52 PM
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