The 2016 Brussels terror attacks trial started on Monday amid controversy over glass boxes built for the defendants. The largest trial in Belgium’s history involves over 960 plaintiffs represented against nine alleged members of Daesh/ISIS.
The perpetrators are accused of carrying out terror attacks in Paris in November 2015 and in Belgium in March 2016. The trial is taking place at the former NATO headquarters, redesigned to meet the trial’s high security demands.
The defendants’ lawyers have already protested the transparent boxes which have a small slit through which defendants can communicate with their lawyers. that were expressly set up for the jihadist terrorists to give testimony.
“There won’t be a trial if the boxes remain,” Sebastien Courtoy, who represents several defendants, told reporters, according to public broadcaster RTBF. “Is this a palace of justice or Antwerp zoo?” he asked.
Delphine Paci, who is defending the best-known perpetrator, Salah Abdeslam, said the boxes violate the European Convention of Human Rights.
Sofien Ayari, an accused accomplice of Abdeslam, said: “We are being treated like dogs here.”
In the preliminary phase, a list of witnesses will be drawn up, and over 300 people are expected to be heard during the procedure.
The court will also decide if they maintain the glass boxes for the defendants before the actual trial starts on October 13th.
Nine members of the terror group, including one person in absentia who is believed to have been killed in Syria, will be prosecuted for their role in contributing to the terror attack on the metro and at Brussels Zaventem airport that left 32 people dead and over 340 seriously injured.
In June, cell leader Abdeslam was sentenced to life in prison in France for his role in the 2015 Paris terror attacks.
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