Brussels attack: Abdeslam and Abrini found guilty of murder

Salah Abdeslam and Mohamed Abrini, already serving life sentences in Paris for the November 13, 2015 attacks, were found guilty of “murder in a terrorist context” in Brussels on Tuesday at a trial for the 2016 jihadist attacks in the Belgian capital.

This is the most serious crime placed before the Brussels Assize Court to judge these suicide attacks (32 dead as of March 22, 2016).

Both will face life imprisonment.

Unlike Belgian-Moroccan Mohamed Abrini, the “man in the hat” who accompanied the two attackers from Brussels-Zavantem airport, French Salah Abdeslam disputed his involvement in the facts.

Arrested in the Brussels municipality of Molenbeek on 18 March 2016, he was in jail on the day of the attacks.

A total of nine people, including Abdeslam and Abrini, appeared in the extraordinary trial, which began in the Belgian capital in December 2022. The tenth defendant was tried in absentia because he is presumed dead in Syria.

In its indictment in the spring, the federal prosecutor’s office wanted punishment for “murders in a terroristic context” of eight of the ten defendants, who were considered “co-authors” of the facts.

This was followed in only six cases by a popular jury.

Thus, Tunisian Sophien Ayari, an accomplice in Abdeslam’s assassination, was similarly arrested on 18 March, and Hervé Bayingana Muhirwa of Rwanda, who was specifically accused of hosting Abrini in Brussels, escaped the most serious offence.

MM However, Ayari and Bayingana Muhirwa have been found guilty of participating in the activities of a terrorist group.

The last two defendants, the Smail brothers and Ibrahim Farisi, who appeared free, were acquitted.

On the morning of March 22, 2016, two men blew themselves up at Brussels-Zavantem International Airport, and a third blew himself up an hour later in a subway in the heart of the European district.

In addition to the 32 dead, the indictment has identified nearly 700 wounded or injured. There are about one thousand civic parties.

As required by Belgian law, the convicted accused will be sentenced only in a second stage, after a new stage of demands and defense arguments. This step will be taken only in the beginning of September after the judicial holidays.

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