Paris Attacks' Main Suspect Speaks to Judge for First Time

Paris Attacks' Main Suspect Speaks to Judge for First Time

Sunday, 11 March, 2018 - 11:00
French fire brigade members aid an injured individual near the Bataclan concert hall following fatal shootings in Paris, Nov. 13, 2015. (File Photo: Christian Hartmann/Reuters)
Brussels - Abdullah Mustafah
For the first time since his arrest two years ago in Molenbeek district, Salah Abdel Salam, the only survivor of Paris attacks in November 2015, agreed to talk to the judge and defended, Ali Oulkadi who allegedly drove him in Brussels the day after the Paris attacks.

Oulkadi's Belgian lawyer said in a statement to Belgian media that his client repeatedly asserted that he was innocent and had nothing to do with terrorism. He only followed Salah's request and transferred him to Schaerbeek district and was not aware of Abdel Salam's involvement in the matter. This was confirmed by Abdel Salam who spoke to French investigators for the first time.

Belgian News Agency said that both Mohamed Amri and Hamza Attou assisted Abdel Salam and transferred him from Paris to Brussels on November 14, hours after the bombings. Abdel Salam met Oulkadi in a cafe and the latter transferred him to Schaerbeek district.

Salah refused to make any confessions about his role in Paris attacks, and he denied reports that Oulkadi visited the residence in Schaerbeek where the explosives were assembled.

Investigators previously reported that DNA samples were found for Abdel Salam and Oulkadi at the place. Oulkadi's lawyer was surprised to hear of a DNA sample of his client, although he did not visit the residence, according to Abdel Salam's testimony.

Sources close to the investigation reported that Abdel Salam broke his silence only to confirm the innocence of another man accused of helping him escape the police. Abdel Salam, a French citizen, is the only surviving member of ISIS terrorist cell that attacked Paris in November 2015 and killed 130 people. He was arrested in Brussels in March 2016 and handed over to French authorities the following month.

Mid-February, ISIS lauded Abdel Salam's postion and refusal to stand before the judge and cooperate with the court. This came in an issue of the weekly radical magazine "Nabaa" in which confirms Abdel Salam involvement in terrorism.

The hearings sparked controversy with Abdel Salam's lawyer request for his client's innocence due to wrong procedures. Interior Minister Jan Jambon said he did not understand the attorney's request for acquittal on the basis of a procedural error.

"I do not understand this. The lawyer is there to ensure that the defendant gets a proper judgment," he said, adding that the lawyer's request for innocence is "going too far"

The statements were criticized by a number of lawyers, and the minister's office issued a statement indicating that he doesn't intend to pressure the judiciary.

"The minister has the right to say his opinion in his response to a question about the role of lawyer in society," it added.

The Criminal Court in Brussels decided to postpone the trial sessions of Salah Abdel Salam and Sufian Ayari to March 29, giving the judges one month to make a decision, which could be issued before that date.

Editor Picks