PARIS (AP) — The last surviving suspect from the deadly 2015 Paris terror attacks has told a court he felt “ashamed” after failing to detonate his suicide belt on the bloody night of Nov. 13.
“I didn’t go all the way,” Salah Abdelslam told a Paris court, showing no remorse. “I gave up trying to put on the (suicide) belt, not out of cowardice or fear. I didn’t want to, that’s all.”
He gave testimony this week as part of the trial into Paris’ deadliest ever peacetime attack. With thousands of plaintiffs, this trial is among the biggest in modern French history.
His testimony was part of an exceptional week, when he and suspected accomplices were questioned for the first time about the day of the attacks itself. Lawyers and victims’ families see it as crucial for shedding light on what happened on Nov. 13, 2015.
On Friday, the court heard audio recordings and was shown photos from inside the Bataclan concert hall in Paris that have never been made public before, to expose the horrors of what happened that night. Some survivors cried while watching images of corpses piled up inside the Bataclan.
About 20 other people left the courtroom in shock in between sounds of music still playing amid the fire of automatic weapons that night.
This week in court is crucial for the survivors and families of the 130 victims.
Abdelslam dropped off three attackers in a car, who then blew themselves up on the forecourt of France's national soccer stadium moments after a France-Germany match kicked off. Abdelslam said he subsequently drove to the north of Paris, bought a phone chip and took the metro across Paris to hide his explosives belt in the southern suburb of Montrouge after he claimed didn’t have the nerve to detonate it.
Abdelslam said he lied to his co-attackers that the belt had not worked “because I was ashamed of not having gone all the way. I was afraid of the eyes of others. I was simply ashamed.”
Abdelslam’s testimony contradicts that of a police explosives expert who has told the court that the suicide belt was faulty.
Extremists murdered 130 people in suicide bombings and shootings at the Stade de France stadium, the Bataclan concert hall and on street terraces of bars and restaurants in Paris.
Following the attacks, Abdeslam traveled to the Molenbeek district of Brussels where he grew up, but was arrested in March 2016.
Other co-defendants are responding to charges including attack planning, the supply of weapons and giving logistical support.
By NICOLAS VAUX-MONTAGNY Associated Press