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Preliminary hearing marks start of trial of those accused of carrying out Brussels terrorist attacks

A preliminary hearing got under way in Brussels on Monday morning that marks the first step in what will be trial of those accused of having masterminded and/or carried out two terrorist attacks on 22 March 2016. The hearing is taking place in a courtroom that has been specially designed for the terror trial. Rather than sitting in the Brussels Courthouse building in the city centre, the Court of Assizes will sit in a building on the former NATO site in Haren, in the northeast of the city. 

The hearing will seek to draw up a list of witnesses who will testify when the court begins its judgment procedure on October 13. That is unless the trial is further delayed. Defence barristers are unhappy that the defendants will be made to sit in individual secure glass cubicles while they are on trial. 

At the Paris terror trial, the defendants were put into one large secure area behind glass together. If the defence barristers’ objections are upheld work will need to be carried out at the courtroom that could well see the start of the trial proper being put back.

Terrorist attacks shook Brussels

On the morning of 22 March, 2016, three coordinated suicide bombings at Zaventem Airport and on the Brussels metro killed 32 people and paralysed the city. The first attack took place at the airport. 16 people died there. Just over an hour later, another blast occurred in the Maalbeek metro station, killing another 16 people.

Three terrorists that carried out the attacks also died. More than 340 were injured in the blasts.

The so-called Islamic State terrorist group claimed responsibility for the attacks. 

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