2016 Brussels attacks trial: Five accused leave courtroom in protest against transfer conditions

On Wednesday morning, five accused of the Brussels metro and airport attacks of 22 March 2016 left the courtroom at the beginning of the third day of the trial. They did so in protest against the conditions in which they are being transferred from prison to the justice building in Haren.

The five who have left the courtroom are Mohamed Abrini, Osama Krayem, Salah Abdeslam, Sofien Ayari and Ali El Haddad Asufi. They will continue to be represented in the chamber by their lawyers. Only Bilal El Makhoukhi and Hervé Bayingana Muhirwa remain on the accused's bench. Smail and Ibrahim Farisi, appearing as free men, also stay in the chamber.

At the beginning of the session, Ali El Haddad Asufi took the floor before leaving the room. "They humiliate us every day. There is even a camera above our toilet," he said. "They do everything to make sure we break psychologically. It is impossible to live in these conditions. I want to defend myself here, but I cannot do it this way."

El Haddad Asufi, who remained last of the five in the courtroom, asked who determines "that he is so dangerous that he has to undress in front of three men every day?" El Haddad Asufi, accused of providing logistical support to the terror cell and helping identify targets, wants to appear in court as a free man.

Laurence Massart, the presiding judge of the Assize Court, reiterated that her powers are limited to the courtroom. "But we hear you and hope everything goes well," she said in a brief exchange of words with the accused. The prosecution found it also shocking that cameras would be above the toilets. But enquiries revealed that these would not be aimed at the toilets themselves.

Abdeslam's lawyer, Delphine Paci, took the floor afterwards and said she had received a reply from the Justice minister, "which shows that little will change," she said. The challenged security measures remain in place, including naked searches, loud music and a blindfold during transfers. Massart promised to push for changes.

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Beginning of the trial of the attacks of March 22, 2016 in Brussels - EVA News
The trial of the March 22, 2016 attacks opened this Monday at the Justitia in Haren, Belgium. There was a long line and two jurors were missing. In addition, one of the main defendants, Mohammed Abrini, threatened to remain silent after complaining about his detention and transfer conditions. In the coming days, the arraignment will be the centerpiece of the trial.
EVA News

This drawing by Janne Van Woensel Kooy shows Accused Ali El Haddad Asufi (R) and his lawyer Jonathan De Taye at a session of the trial of the attacks of March 22, 2016, at the Brussels-Capital Assizes Court, Wednesday 07 December 2022 at the Justitia site in Haren, Brussels. On March 22 2016, 32 people were killed and 324 got injured in suicide bombings at Zaventem national airport and Maalbeek/ Maelbeek metro station, which were claimed by ISIL.

© BELGA PHOTO Janne van Woensel Kooy

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