Salah Abdeslam: Paris attacks suspect to go on trial in Belgium

Policeman outside Brussels Palace of Justice - 4 FebruaryImage copyright

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Extra police have been drafted in to guard the court in Brussels

The sole surviving suspect from the 2015 Paris terror attacks is due to go on trial amid tight security in Belgium.

Salah Abdeslam was captured in Brussels four months after the attacks.

The charges he faces are not related to events in Paris but to a gun fight with police while on the run in Belgium.

The attacks by gunmen and suicide bombers on a Paris concert hall, stadium, restaurants and bars left 130 people dead and hundreds more wounded.

Among the attackers was Abdeslam’s brother, Brahim, who died in a suicide blast outside a cafe.

French prosecutors believe Salah Abdeslam, 28, also played a key role in the attacks but he has refused to co-operate with investigators.

He is not expected to go on trial in France until 2020 at the earliest.

Following the attacks, Salah Abdeslam became Europe’s most wanted man and was eventually found hiding in a flat in his home district of Molenbeek in Brussels.

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Belgian/French police

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Abdeslam was arrested in March 2016 after a shootout with police in Brussels

In the trial opening on Monday, Abdeslam and suspected accomplice Sofian Ayari, 24, face charges of possessing illegal weapons and the attempted murder of police officers in a terrorist context.

The men allegedly fought a gun battle with officers who raided the flat where they were holed up in the Belgian capital.

If found guilty they face up to 40 years in prison.

Abdeslam, a French citizen born to Moroccan parents in Brussels, is being held at a jail just across the border in France and will be brought to Brussels under armed guard each day he appears in court.

Up to 200 police will be guarding the courthouse for the trial.

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