Attacks in Brussels in 2016: The court orders the dismantling of the accused’s box
The jury, which is preparing the sentencing of the ten accused of the jihadist attacks in Brussels in March 2016, ordered the dismantling of the box, which was divided into individual glass cells, on Friday because this “too drastic” measure violated the right to a fair trial. . The box “in its current configuration” must be dismantled “at the latest by October 10, 2022”, the date on which the jury of the people is to meet, said the president of the court Laurence Massart. The debates are then scheduled to open on October 13th.
This unprecedented setup in Belgium to bring the accused to justice sparked an outcry from the defense during Monday’s pre-trial hearing. These nine individual locked boxes (a tenth suspect, believed to be dead in Syria, will be tried in his absence) have been likened to “cages.” French jihadist Salah Abdeslam, who is among the accused, quickly left the hearing, denouncing an “unfair” trial.
The defendants’ lawyers unanimously called for the glass cells to be demolished, believing they constituted “inhuman and degrading treatment” for their clients and undermined their presumption of innocence. They also pointed out that exchanges were made very difficult on both sides of the wall.
The President dismissed the first complaint of “inhuman treatment”, maintaining several others and notably concluding that a “violation of Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights” guarantees the right to a fair trial. She felt that the “isolation” of the defendants jeopardized her participation. And suggested replacing these individual cells with “a single box with a ribbon of glass that collectively welcomes the accused.”
An attack that killed 32 people
“It’s gratifying to hear that the judiciary is remembering the basic principles, but it’s still sad that it had to come to this,” reacted Virginie Taelman, one of the defenders, with reference to the multi-week battle against these boxes.
This is the trial of the attacks carried out on March 22, 2016 in Brussels (32 dead) by the same jihadist cell as on November 13, 2015 (130 dead in Paris and Saint-Denis).
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