A 31-year-old French-Moroccan, thought to be the last surviving member of a group of gunmen that killed 130 people and wounded many more during the 2015 Paris attacks, has arrived at court for his long-awaited trial.
On Wednesday, Salah Abdeslam, a Belgium-born French-Moroccan, arrived at a Paris court as one of 20 men on trial for their involvement in the 2015 rampage that killed 130. There was a sizable police presence around the Palais de Justice courthouse in central Paris for his arrival.
Abdeslam is believed to be the last surviving gunman from November 13, 2015, when jihadists conducted a coordinated attack on six bars and restaurants, the Bataclan concert hall and a sports stadium. The 31-year-old, who arrived at the courtroom dressed all in black and with a black face mask, proceeded to tell those present that he was a soldier of the Islamic State. The Islamist terrorist group claimed responsibility for the deadly attack.
Abdeslam was arrested in the Brussels district of Molenbeek in March 2016, having fled the scene of the Paris attack. It was understood from a note written by the suspect, found on a laptop hardrive, that he’d intended to die in 2015 alongside his “brothers.” His suicide vest failed to detonate.
Abdeslam reportedly remained silent during the investigation and failed to cooperate with the authorities. Of the remaining defendants, 11 are already in jail pending trial and six will be tried in absentia – most of them are believed dead.
Justice Minister Eric Dupond-Moretti has described the trial, which will last nine months and involve around 1,800 plaintiffs and more than 300 lawyers, as an unprecedented judicial marathon.
The events of November 13, 2015, are some of the bloodiest in modern French history and started when a suicide bomber blew himself up outside the Stade de France where some 80,000 were watching a football match.
It was followed by drive-by shootings and suicide bombings across the 10th and 11th arrondissements, while 89 more people died when the jihadist stormed the Bataclan concert venue.
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