2016 Brussels attacks: 6 found guilty across the board, 2 defendants fully acquitted

After a seven-month trial, the verdict of the Brussels terror trial was reached on Tuesday evening. Six of the 10 accused, including figureheads Salah Abdeslam and Mohamed Abrini, were found guilty of terrorist murder. Eight of the 10 were also convicted of participating in the activities of a terrorist group. Two were acquitted of all charges.

The men had been on trial for the last seven months for the attacks at Brussels Airport and Maelbeek metro station on 22 March 2016. Six have now been found guilty of terrorist murder and attempted murder: Abdeslam, Abrini, Oussama Atar, Osama Krayem, Ali El Haddad Asufi and Bilal El Makhouki.

The main perpetrators

Abdeslam, also an accomplice in the 2015 Paris attacks, was arrested after a shootout in Brussels but asked to be acquitted of terrorist murder. However, the prosecution argued that his flat had housed the "operational cell".

Abrini and Krayem were supposed to carry out suicide attacks but decided against it at the last minute. Abrini left his explosives in the departure hall of Brussels airport, and Krayem flushed his down a toilet. Both have pleaded guilty to all charges.

El Makhoukhi admitted to taking part in the activities of a terrorist organisation and is considered one of the ringleaders of the attacks. El Haddad Asufi pleaded for total acquittal, claiming he had been manipulated by his friend Ibrahim El Bakraoui, who blew himself up at Brussels airport.

Atar is the only defendant to be tried in absentia. He was suspected of directing the attacks from his base in Syria and has now been found guilty, but is believed to have been killed in an airstrike in 2017.

Partially or fully acquitted

Three defendants were acquitted of terrorist murder. They are Sofien Ayari, Hervé Bayingana Muhirwa and Smail Farisi. Farisi's acquittal was expected, as the prosecution had asked for it. The 10th defendant, Farisi's brother Ibrahim, was not on trial for this charge.

The final questions answered by the jury concerned membership of a terrorist organisation. Muhirwa and Ayari were found guilty of this, as were the six who were also found guilty of terrorist murder and attempted murder. Again, Smail Farisi was acquitted. Ibrahim Farisi was also acquitted of the membership charge. This means that both brothers were acquitted entirely.

Death toll adjusted

Furthermore, the court ruled that the names of three more victims should be added to the list of those killed. This brings the official death toll to 35, up from the 32 on record until now. The three additional victims died in the months and years following the attacks.

After today's verdict, the trial goes into summer recess. The court will reconvene in September for sentencing deliberations.



The defendants, in a specially designed glass box behind their legal counsel © PHOTO OLIVIER MATTHYS / POOL / AFP

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2016 Brussels attacks: The 10 defendants and their charges
After 18 days of deliberations - the longest in Belgium's history - the jury is due announce its verdict on the 2016 Brussels terrorist attacks trial at 16.30. The 10 defendants will discover if they have been found guilty of terrorist murder, attempted murder and participating in activities of a terrorism organisation.

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