Delay looms for Brussels terror trial

The start of the trial of suspects held responsible for the terrorist attacks at Brussels Airport and Maalbeek metro station on 22 March 2016 may almost certainly have to be delayed.  A letter from the Belgian justice minister to the chair of the court of assises says work to modify the glass cubicles in which defendants will sit won’t be ready in time for 10 October, the planned start of proceedings.

During the preliminary hearing lawyers representing defendants slated the separate glass cubicles and the presiding judge Laurence Massart decided that changes would have to made.

The justice ministry, the court and police are examining whether one, single, separate elongated area can created where all defendants can sit as was the case during the trial of suspects of the Paris attacks. The ministry says that in any case these modifications can’t be made in time for 10 October.

The cubicles need to be dismantled by specialised crews as the glass window in every separate box weighs several hundred kilos.  The help of external experts will be required.  Floor cables will have to be redrawn too.  An external firm will also have to construct the new alternative space and it’s unclear whether the necessary equipment including safety glass will be available in time.

It's not known when the trial will now be able to start.  VRT News understands that minimal changes will delay proceedings for at least a month.

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