Salah Abdeslam, the sole surviving member of the jihadist commandos who perpetrated the November 13th, 2015 Paris attacks, once again, refused to answer the judge’s questions on Wednesday. This occurred during his fifth judicial questioning since he was indicted 18 months ago. The Belga press agency has learned this from legal sources.
A key suspect of the attacks which caused 130 deaths in Paris and Saint-Denis, in the north of the capital, Salah Abdeslam completed a return trip on Wednesday morning between his high-security cell in Fleury-Mérogis prison and the Paris Courthouse. Originally arrested on March 18th, 2016, in the Brussels commune of Molenbeek-Saint-Jean after four months on the run, he was indicated on April 27th, 2016. This was specifically for terrorist assassinations. He is still remaining silent when appearing before French judges.
A source close to the case said that on April 24th of this year, during his previous summons, he was questioned at length upon the preparation for the November 13th attacks, his hiring of various vehicles and his travels across Europe specifically to convey cell members. The source said that he was even asked about the purchase of materials used to make the explosive devices. At that time, he still did not answer any of the questions put to him.
Salah Abdeslam, who still refuses to have legal representation, has been placed in solitary confinement and is under 24-hour video surveillance in his cell. He has had his detention conditions relaxed, owing to “fears over his health.” This had been explained in mid-September by the Minister of Justice, Nicole Belloubet, whilst she refused to make any statement “in mitigation” of his crimes.
He will be tried in December in Belgium for the “attempted terrorist assassination of several police officers”, after a shooting in Brussels on March 15th, 2016. This was three days before his arrest. Contrary to all expectations, he expressed a wish to appear at this trial. Belgium has officially requested that France return him for the trial in the Belgian capital. Discussions between France and Belgium as to the appropriate transfer procedures are currently ongoing.
Abdeslam’s hearing in Paris coincidentally took place the same day as the transfer from Belgium to France, to the Paris Courthouse, of the French jihadist Mehdi Nemmouche. The alleged perpetrator of the killings in Jewish Museum of Brussels has now been indicted as part of the investigation into the four French journalists held hostage in Syria in 2013 to 2014. He is suspected of having been one of their jailers. After his indictment, Nemmouche was swiftly returned to Belgium on the same day.