The Latest: Belgian IS trial focuses on arms stockpile
BRUSSELS (AP) — The Latest on an Islamic State fighter on trial in Brussels (all times local):
The Belgian federal prosecutor in the trial for the sole surviving suspect in the 2015 Islamic State attacks in Paris says terrorism charges in a police shootout were logical given the arms stockpile in his hideout.
Kathleen Grosjean was refuting the lawyer for Salah Abdeslam, who said the shootout that wounded three Belgian officers was spontaneous and unrelated to terrorism. Abdeslam and an accomplice, Sofiane Ayari, fled as an IS fighter opened fire to cover their getaway.
Grosjean said that “we know that they were stockpiling weapons in preparation for terrorist attacks. So if they fled it was only because they had other plans.”
A week after the March 2016 shooting, IS suicide bombers struck the Brussels airport and metro. In all, 162 people died in the two cities, along with nearly all the attackers.
A lawyer for the sole surviving suspect in the 2015 Islamic State attacks in Paris has denied any links to terrorism in the police shootout that led to his client’s capture.
Lawyer Sven Mary also says Thursday that the attempted murder case against suspect Salah Abdeslam should be thrown out because court orders were in French and not in Dutch. Abdeslam is a French-speaking native of Belgium, a linguistically divided nation.
Mary says the 2016 shootout that left three police officers injured “was a spontaneous act, not a terrorist act,” and the terrorism charges against Abdeslam and another man are invalid.
His co-defendant has denied shooting. Abdeslam refused to testify at the trial that opened Monday and declined to appear in court for the second hearing Thursday.
The lawyer for a former Islamic State fighter who escaped under police gunfire with Europe’s most-wanted fugitive says his client didn’t want to die as a martyr, or cause carnage.
Sofiane Ayari was in court in Brussels Thursday, but his high-profile co-defendant Salah Abdeslam — the sole living suspect in the 2015 attacks on Paris — had informed the tribunal in Brussels that he did not want to come to Thursday’s hearing.
The two face charges of attempted murder in a terrorist context for a March 15, 2016, shootout with police in the Belgian capital. Abdeslam, who at the time was Europe’s most-wanted fugitive, escaped out of a window with Ayari. A third Islamic State suspect died.
Ayari has denied that he fired the Kalashnikov the pair escaped with. Instead, his lawyer Isa Gultaslar indicated Thursday that the Islamic State fighter who was killed in the shootout had been the only man firing on the officers in the police raid, despite the usual stated wish of IS combatants to die as “martyrs.”
A trial of the surviving suspect from the 2015 Islamic State attacks on Paris has resumed — without the suspect in court.
Salah Abdeslam had informed the tribunal that he did not want to come to Thursday’s hearing — the first since he was initially brought before the court on Monday.
He and another man, Sofiane Ayari, face charges of attempted murder in a terrorist context for a March 15, 2016, shootout with police in the Belgian capital. Abdeslam, who at the time was Europe’s most-wanted fugitive, escaped out of a window with Ayari. A third Islamic State suspect died.
The pair was captured a few days later. On March 22, 2016, Islamic State suicide bombers struck the Brussels metro and airport.
Prosecutors have asked for the maximum 20-year prison term.