Brussels attacks trial: assize chairwoman sets a start date on December 5

The trial for the attacks of 22 March 2016 in Brussels and Zaventem will eventually start on 5 December. The chairwoman of the assize court decided it this Friday 7 October, reports the newspaper La Libre Belgique, from an email that the court sent to the lawyers in the file. A few days earlier, on November 30, the jury for the trial will be assembled.

The mega-trial about the attacks should have started on October 10 in the Justitia building in Haren, with the composition of the jury. Nine individual glass boxes had been built in the assize room for the accused, but at the preliminary hearing on September 12, the defense had argued that the box violated the rights of the defence.

In a judgment of September 16, the Assize Court had agreed with the defense and ordered that the box should be demolished and replaced by one large box that could accommodate all the accused. The court gave as an example the accused box that was used in the French assize trial about the attacks of November 13, 2015 in Paris.

On September 22, the FPS Justice announced that the new box could not be ready by October 10, the date on which the jury had to be assembled. On Thursday, the news came that the box would be ready on November 14.

However, all parties to the trial and the 800 candidate jurors must be summoned again, and the federal prosecutor has informed the court that this will only be possible by November 15, according to the email that the president of the assize sent to the parties. There must be at least 15 days between that summons and the day on which the jury is drawn, and the assize chairman has therefore decided to have it take place on Wednesday 30 November.

According to Luc Hennart, press magistrate at the Brussels court of appeal, the 800 candidate jury members who now have to be summoned are the same people who should have appeared on October 10. In a first phase, 600 candidate jury members were selected for the assize process. About a third of them had asked to be exempted, and the president of the assize court had already granted a number of exemptions. To make sure that there were still enough candidate jury members to get 12 effective jury members and 24 reserve jury members, an additional 200 people were called up.

"But the exemptions that were previously granted now expire," says the press magistrate. "Anyone who wants to be exempted will have to submit a new request to the assize court."



© BELGA PHOTO (ERIC LALMAND) Lawyers during a judgment on the list of witnesses for the trial of the attacks of March 22, 2016, before the Brussels-Capital Assizes Court, Thursday 22 September 2022.

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