Europe

Paris attacks: Lawyers for Salah Abdeslam 'will not defend him'

Images of Salah Abdeslam Image copyright Belgian/French police
Image caption Abdeslam was arrested in a dramatic raid in March not far from his home in Brussels

Lawyers for the main suspect in last year's Islamist attacks in Paris say they will no longer defend him as he has chosen to remain silent.

Salah Abdeslam is angered at being placed under 24-hour video surveillance, Frank Berton told BFM TV.

"We said from the beginning... that if our client remained silent we would quit his defence," he said alongside fellow lawyer Sven Mary.

The attacks in Paris last November killed 130 people.

So-called Islamic State said it was behind the coordinated assaults on bars, restaurants, a concert hall and the Stade de France

Salah Abdeslam was arrested in Brussels in March and has kept silent since his transfer to France in April.

He is being monitored 24 hours a day by video in his prison cell. Mr Berton said in May the suspect was "particularly disturbed" by the surveillance.

He told BFM TV the decision to monitor Abdeslam was a "political" one.

Abdeslam is thought to have played a key role in planning the Paris attacks and transporting the attackers, but investigators are yet to determine his specific role.

The lawyers informed their client they would no longer represent him on 6 October, BFM TV reports (in French). It says that at present, he does not want to be represented by anyone else.

Legal representation is not required while the investigation continues but will be at his trial.

"The real victims of all of this are the victims of the Paris attacks, because they are entitled to this truth and they have the right to try to comprehend the incomprehensible," Sven Mary said.


Salah Abdeslam - from petty crook to Islamist

  • Born 15 September 1989 in Brussels
  • In his teens, he and two brothers get into trouble with police for drug trafficking
  • Transport technician for STIB from 2009-11 but fired for poor timekeeping
  • Jailed briefly for burglary in 2010 with Abdelhamid Abbaoud, the suspected ringleader of the Paris attacks, who went to the same Molenbeek school
  • In 2013 managed "Les Beguines" bar in Molenbeek with brother Brahim; the bar was shut down in 2015
  • Briefly detained by Dutch police in February 2015, fined €70 (£49) for possession of cannabis
  • Both brothers placed on police list in 2015 for links to Islamist fighters in Syria