Belgian courts on Tuesday found Salah Abdeslam and five other suspects guilty of “murder in a terrorist context” for the 2016 subway and Brussels airport bombings that left 32 dead and more than 300 injured.
Salah Abdeslam and Mohamed Abrini, already sentenced to life in prison in 2022 in Paris for the attacks on 13 November 2015, were found guilty in Brussels on Tuesday 25 July of “murder in a terrorist context” at the trial of the 2016 jihadist attacks in the Belgian capital.
This is the most serious offense held before the Brussels court to try these suicide attacks, which killed 32 people on March 22, 2016, and which were claimed by the Islamic State (IS) group. Both face a life sentence.
Unlike the Belgian-Moroccan Mohamed Abrini, the “man in the hat” who accompanied the two attackers from Brussels-Zaventem airport, the Frenchman Salah Abdeslam disputed his participation in the facts.
Arrested on 18 March 2016 in the Brussels municipality of Molenbeek, he was in prison on the day of the attacks.
In this extraordinary trial, which opened in December 2022 in the Belgian capital, a total of nine men appeared, including Abdeslam and Abrini. A tenth defendant was tried in his absence because he is presumed dead in Syria.
In its indictment this spring, the federal prosecutor’s office had sought the conviction of “murder in a terrorist context” of eight of the ten defendants who were considered to be the “co-authors” of the facts. It was followed by the popular jury in only six cases.
Salah Abdeslam found guilty of assassinations for the attacks in Brussels
Thus the Tunisian Sofien Ayari, complicit in Abdeslam’s end of the run, arrested like him on March 18, and the Rwandan Hervé Bayingana Muhirwa, accused of having hosted Abrini in Brussels in particular, escaped the most serious offense.
However, Sofien Ayari and Bayingana Muhirwa are known to be 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-Zaventem International Airport, and a third one hour later in a subway in the heart of the European district.
In addition to the 32 dead, the indictment identified around 700 injured or traumatized. There are about a thousand bourgeois parties.
As required by Belgian law, the sentences for the convicted defendants will only be handed down in a second phase, after a new phase of requisitions and defense submissions. This step will only take place in early September, after the judicial holidays.