10 suspects in Brussels and Zaventem terror attacks case to face trial by jury

Ten men suspected of involvement in the bombings at Brussels Airport in Zaventem (Flemish Brabant) and at the Maalbeek metro station in Brussels will be tried before a jury at the Court of Assis. The ten suspects include Salah Abdeslam and Mohamed Abrini. The suspects’ committal to a trial at the Court of Assis is subject to the approval of the Chamber of Indictment. 

A committal hearing was held before Brussels Magistrates at the start of last month. Their decision to commit the ten suspects to a trial by jury before the Court of Assis was announced on Tuesday morning. As in every court case it is the magistrates that decide on whether the suspects are to remain in custody and before which court they are to stand trial.

The Federal Judicial Authorities had wanted the 8 prime suspects in the case to be tried before the Court of Assis. They are accused of carrying out 32 terrorist murders and 687 counts of attempted murder with a terrorist motive. 

Among those that will be tried before the Court of Assis are Mohamed Abrini the so-called “man with the hat”. His suitcase bomb failed to explode at the airport. Osama Krayem, who was going to blow himself up at the Maalbeek metro station, but changed his mind at the last minute, will also be tried before a jury.

In addition to these the six other prime suspects, Sofien Ayari, Ali El Haddad Asufi, Bilal El Makhoukhi, Hervé Bayingana Muhirwa and Salah Abdeslam will also be tried at the Court of Assis. The man suspected of having been the brains behind the attack, Oussama Atar will be tried before the Court of Assis in his absence. He is believed to have been killed in Syria, but his death has as yet not been confirmed. 

Three other suspects will face no further legal proceedings as they had nothing to do with the bombings. One of them is the man that was mistaken for Mohamed Abrini. 

Three terrorists, Najim Laachraoui and the brothers Ibrahim and Khalid El Bakraoui blew themselves up in the two attacks on 22 March 2016. 

A total of 32 people died in the attacks at the departure hall of Brussels Airport and around an hour later at the Maalbeek metro station in Brussels. The attacks came only just over 4 months after the Paris attacks on 13 November 2015. Those involved in both sets of attacks were part of the same IS terrorist network. 

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