BRUSSELS – A court in Brussels announced on Monday that it would be delaying a trial against the only surviving suspect from the Paris attacks, who allegedly was in a shootout with police in the lead up to his capture last year.
The trial against Salah Abdeslam, which had been scheduled to start Monday, is to now take place on Feb. 5-9 at the Correctional Court, after his lawyer Sven Mary asked for more time to prepare his client’s defense.
Also set to go on trial alongside Abdeslam is Soufiane Ayari, who is accused of being involved in the shootout and suspected of having links to the November 2015 Paris attackers, who killed 130 people and injured over 400.
Abdeslam and Ayari are accused of attempting to murder police officers and carrying prohibited weapons in a terrorist context with regards to a shootout in Brussels that left three police officers injured on March 15, 2016, four days before their capture.
Abdeslam, 28, a French citizen of Moroccan origin who grew up in Belgium, is being held in a French prison to the south of Paris under strict security measures and isolation.
On the night on Nov. 13, 2015, Abdeslam fled Paris for Brussels, where he managed to evade security forces for four months until his arrest in March 2016, days after the shootout with police for which he is going on trial.
Along with a third suspect of Algerian nationality who ended up dead in the scuffle, Mohammed Belkaid, the duo was allegedly holed up in an apartment in the Brussels neighborhood of Forest during an anti-terror raid conducted by Belgian and French police, before making an escape onto the rooftops.
The Paris attacks saw a series of coordinated terror attacks strike various venues of the French capital, among them the Bataclan theater, the Stade de France soccer stadium and several bars and restaurants.