In the trial of the March 2016 terror attacks in Brussels, suspected terrorist Salah Abdeslam declared that he did not return to Brussels following the 2015 terror attacks in Paris to plot another assault on the Belgian capital.
Arrested at a hideout in Molenbeek on 18 March 2016 less than a week before the terror attacks, Abdeslam attempted to explain how his lack of knowledge of other addresses proved his innocence regarding the bombings in the Belgian capital, Belga News Agency reports.
Indeed, Abdeslam fled to Molenbeek after a previous shootout with the police at Rue du Dries in the municipality of Forest. He claims that being caught so quickly after his initial escapes, as well as not knowing the other hideouts in Etterbeek, prove that he was not planning the attacks in Brussels.
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He had first come to Brussels after failing to set off his explosive belt in a Parisian café during the 2015 terror attacks. "I was not supposed to come back," Abdeslam told the courtroom, explaining that "I surprised everyone by coming back" which he claims "forced them into making a decision" by hiding him.
As a result, Abdeslam felt as if he was being tried for an offence he did not commit and stated as much to the court. "Am I entitled to three trials?" He asked sarcastically, "I have already been sentenced in Paris." To which the presiding judge Laurence Massart responded: "Yes why is that? I don't know, it’s up to you to defend yourself and answer the questions."