Lawyers give up de­fence of Paris at­tacks sus­pect Ab­deslam

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

The two lawyers for the main sus­pect in the Paris at­tacks, Salah Ab­deslam, said yes­ter­day they would no longer de­fend him given his un­com­pro­mis­ing re­fusal to an­swer ques­tions about the Novem­ber mas­sacre.

“We both de­cided to give up his de­fense,” lawyer Frank Berton said in a joint in­ter­view with France’s BFM TV with fel­low lawyer Sven Mary. “We don’t think that he will speak, and he will use the right to re­main silent,” said Berton.

“Given our po­si­tion, what are we sup­posed to do? We said from the be­gin­ning... that if our client re­mained silent we would quit his de­fense,” he added. Ab­deslam is the sole sur­viv­ing mem­ber of the group be­hind the Novem­ber 13 car­nage at a Paris con­cert hall, bars and the na­tional sta­dium that left 130 peo­ple dead and scores in­jured.

The Is­lamic State group claimed re­spon­si­bil­ity for the atroc­ity, one of a string of at­tacks claimed by the ji­hadists that have put Europe on edge. Ab­deslam has re­fused to an­swer ques­tions since be­ing trans­ferred to France from Bel­gium in April.

Berton said he had seen his client around 10 times and had reg­u­larly spo­ken to him on the phone. He said the 27-year-old Bel­gian-born French na­tional had writ­ten to the au­thor­i­ties to tell them he no longer wanted rep­re­sen­ta­tion.

Just like ‘so­cial vis­its’

Mary, his Bel­gian coun­sel, said he had felt as if his role was just to “pay so­cial vis­its to the prison”. Ab­deslam has protested at the round-the-clock CCTV sur­veil­lance of his jail cell in FleuryMer­o­gis prison south of Paris, where he is be­ing held in soli­tary con­fine­ment.

The CCTV sur­veil­lance was the “clear” rea­son why he was tightlipped, said Berton. “Au­tho­riza­tion for the sur­veil­lance is valid for three months and the min­is­ter of jus­tice is go­ing to de­cide shortly on whether to re­new it,” Berton said.

“I sense that he (Ab­deslam) will con­test this as well.” Af­ter four months on the run, he was ar­rested on March 18 in Molen­beek, a Brus­sels neigh­bor­hood no­to­ri­ous for be­ing a hot­bed of Is­lamic ex­trem­ism, where he grew up. He was trans­ferred to France to face ter­ror charges on April 27.

In­ves­ti­ga­tors have yet to pin down his ex­act role in the worst ter­ror at­tack in French his­tory.

Ab­deslam drove the three sui­cide bombers who blew them­selves up out­side the Stade de France to the sta­dium and then roamed the city be­fore flee­ing to Bel­gium the next day. He told in­ves­ti­ga­tors there he had also wanted to blow him­self up at the Stade de France but had changed his mind. —AFP

PARIS: In this July 25, 2016 file photo, French pres­i­dent Fran­cois Hol­lande re­views troops at the army base and com­mand cen­tre for France’s anti-ter­ror ‘Vigipi­rate’ plan, dubbed ‘Op­er­a­tion Sen­tinelle’. —AP

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