Paris 2015 Attacks Suspect Complains Of Conditions


The only surviving member of the group suspected of being behind the 2015 Paris attacks says he and his fellow accused are “being treated like dogs”.

Salah Abdeslam and 19 other defendants are being tried in Paris over the attacks, which left 130 dead.

The trial, which is expected to last nine months, began on Wednesday.

The shooting and bombing assault by Islamist State (IS) group extremists was the worst post-World War Two attack in France.

French media say Abdeslam “shouted” from the dock and said he had not complained in the past because he will be “resurrected” after death.

“You should treat us like human beings”,” BFMTV quoted him as saying.

Cries of “What about us? There were 130 deaths” were heard in response from the courtroom.

Shortly after, the judge reminded Abdeslam that he was not in an “ecclesiastical court but a democratic court”.

There will be more than 140 days of hearings involving about 330 lawyers, 300 victims, and testimony from François Hollande, who was French president when the attacks happened.

Ahead of the trial, Mr. Hollande told French media that this was an important moment for the victims of the attacks, which he called an “act of war” at the time.

IS admitted carrying out the coordinated attacks on the Bataclan concert hall, a major stadium, restaurants, and bars on 13 November 2015.

The suspects arrived at court in police vehicles under heavy security on Wednesday morning. They were seated together in the defendants’ box, wearing facemasks, before the trial opened.

Asked by the court’s top judge to identify himself, Abdeslam confirmed his name and said “there is no god but Allah” – an Islamic oath known as the Shahada.

Day one of this monumental trial is over, with its mixture of confusion and solemnity, drama and tedium. At the start, it was mayhem, as everyone milled around wondering where to go. But, at one, the presiding judge entered the court and stillness descended. I think at that point everyone drew a breath and understood the significance of the moment.

There were small excitements. Like when Salah Abdeslam – the key defendant – said that his profession was “soldier of Islamic State”. And later there was a mini-confrontation when he complained about prison conditions, saying that it didn’t matter because he knew that when he died he would be re-born, while for those facing him there would be a “reckoning”.

Is Salah Abdeslam shaping up to be the spokesman for the group in the dock? Is his bravado because he is insecure in his jihadist credentials? Remember, he failed in his apparent mission to blow himself up.

Amid it all there was much of what accompanies all lengthy trials: long moments of not very much. The first two days will be taken up simply by recording the names of all those hundreds of survivors and relatives who have registered as civil plaintiffs.

This will be the pattern. Periods of quiet are punctuated by periods of high emotion. The trial for the events of 13 November 2015 will be both exhaustive and exhausting.


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