2016 Brussels attacks trial: Defense wants to subpoena Belgian Justice Minister

The mammoth trial of the 2016 Brussels terror attacks continued with the reading of the bill of indictment on Monday. Once again, most defendants left the courtroom in protest against the conditions of their detainment and transfer. The defendants' lawyers intend to subpoena Belgian Justice Minister Vincent Van Quickenborne over the matter on Wednesday.

With over 100 pages left to go, the reading of the 467-page bill of indictment is drawing to a close on Monday afternoon. First, prosecutor Bernard Michel explained how defendant Ali El Haddad Asufi lent a helping hand to the terror cell, primarily to his friend Ibrahim El Bakraoui. Next came Bilal El Makhoukhi, who denies his part in the attacks, although there are many indications that he played a role, according to the prosecution. Prosecutor Paule Somers then moved on to Hervé Bayingana Muhirwis, suspected of having helped hide both Ossama Krayem and Mohamed Abrini on two occasions.

At the start of the hearing, defendant Salah Abdeslam was absent due to illness. Lawyer Vincent Lurquin, representing Hervé Bayingana Muhirawa, indicated that his client was also ill but had not been given a medical certificate. 

Finally, all defendants in the defendants' box once again decided to leave the courtroom in protest against the conditions of their detention and transfer. The same had happened on Friday. The defendants' lawyers intend to subpoena Belgian Justice Minister Vincent Van Quickenborne over those detention and transfer conditions on Wednesday, said Lawyer Vincent Lurquin. 

The defendants Smail and Ibrahim Farisi, who do not have to sit in the box because they are not in detention, did attend the hearing.

Moreover, a virus is circulating among the magistrates and the clerk's office, presiding judge Laurence Massart said Monday morning. One juror also had to be excused after falling ill. "Everyone is sick," said Massart. She announced that she would consider at noon whether the session should be adjourned "so as not to lose everyone."



Lawyers talking to their clients sitting in the defendants' box on Monday 12 December 2022 in Brussels. © BELGA PHOTO POOL DIDIER LEBRUN

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