BRUSSELS (AP) — The sole surviving suspect in the November 2015 attacks on Paris refused to re-appear in a trial that victims had hoped would shed light on the Islamic State network that struck again in Brussels, a court said Tuesday.
Salah Abdeslam appeared on Monday, defying the court and refusing to answer any questions about the March 2016 shootout with police in Brussels that led to his capture. It was his first public appearance.
But the Brussels court said Tuesday that Abdeslam informed the tribunal he did not wish to appear at the next hearing, scheduled for Thursday. Abdeslam, who is in solitary confinement in France where he faces allegations linked to the Paris attacks, is not required to attend the trial in Brussels. He has refused to answer a French investigating judge’s questions and responded similarly to the Belgian jurist.
Abdeslam was Europe’s most-wanted fugitive at the time of the March 15, 2016, shootout. He and an accomplice, Sofiane Ayari, escaped from their hideout while a third jihadi opened fire on police. Three police officers were injured. The pair were captured three days later.
The two are charged with attempted murder in a terrorist context and face up to 20 years in prison.
Four days after their capture, the Islamic State network linked to the Paris attacks struck the Brussels airport and metro. In all, 162 people were killed in the two cities, in addition to nearly all the attackers.