Welcome to the first edition of V-Europe's newsletter about the trial on the 22 March Brussels terrorist attacks. Our aim is to summarise the past week at the Justitia, as well as to inform you about the next steps of the trial. Future events of the organisation are also provided for your information. We are further working on providing you with a summary of interesting press articles related to the trial, but that will come in a later edition.
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The first two weeks of the trial
After the selection of the jury last week, the first substantive hearing of the trial took place on Monday 5 December. The first day’s session were very introductory, as the President mainly provided explanations to the jury, as well as the presentation of the defendants. The President also read out the entire list of civil parties. On this day, the defendants complained for the first time about the transfer conditions to the courtroom. We noted that about 40 civil parties were present.
On Tuesday 6 December, the President opened the day by reassuring the jury about the conduct of the trial, following the absence of two additional jurors. The prosecutors read the charges. The description of the impact of the bombs caused great emotion among the civil parties. Approximately thirty civil parties were present.
On Wednesday 7 December, the prosecutors continued the reading of the charges. Only four defendants remained at the hearing, the others preferred to return to their cells. About twenty civil parties were present.
Thursday 8 December was marked by an incident in which one of the defendants complained about violence by the police. All defendants left after this incident. The prosecutors continued with the reading of the charges, about 15 civil parties were present.
There was no hearing on Friday and the trial resumed the week of 12 December.
Monday 12 December was again marked by several hitches. An alternate juror withdrew for medical reasons, bringing the number of missing jurors (or alternates) to 5 out of 36. The President asked the defendants' lawyers if they wished to plead any defence. All lawyers requested to speak. The federal prosecutors then continued to read the charges, from page 289 to page 412. We noted a dozen civil parties present. The hearing took place in the absence of all detained defendants, also Salah Abdeslam was absent, due to illness. The defendants seemed free, the Farisi brothers, remained in the courtroom.
There were no absences on Tuesday 13 December. The morning was marked by the refusal of two defendants, Salah Abdeslam and Bilal El Makhoukhi, to go to the Justitia, as well as numerous discussions and requests by the defendants' lawyers to be allowed to speak. This was rejected by the President. The federal prosecutors were able to finish reading the indictment at around 1.30pm. Salah Abdeslam's lawyer, Ms Paci, then read her client's defence. The hearing was suspended again for a question related to the anonymity of the police officers from the special units who are monitoring the detained defendants. The hearing ended around 5.30pm.
There are no further hearings this week due to the EU summit taking place from Wednesday to Friday. The trial is about two days behind schedule. The provisional timetable will be adapted on the website's calendar page.
The coming week
Monday 19 December will be devoted to defence and prosecution issues. On Tuesday 20 December morning, the new constitutions of civil parties with lawyers will be reviewed, followed by the new constitutions of civil parties without lawyers later that day. The original programme planned the questioning of the defendants on Wednesday 21 December, but the President of the Court decided to start the questioning of the investigators because the defendants are currently not attending the trial as they complain in their transfer conditions. The questioning of the defendants will start after that another judge takes a decision on the transfer conditions. More information on in the calendar page.
Oral statement of defence: The oral statements of defence and prosecution are the oral analysis of the criminal case by the defence and the prosecution. The defence and the prosecution outline their positions during the trial.
Written statement of defence: A written statement of defence has the same purpose as an oral defence statement, but it is a written document that is later handed in to the jury. The document is still read out in public. Salah Abdeslam's lawyer has decided to make a written defence statement, while the other defence lawyers will only make an oral statement of defence.
Support and representation
V-Europe provides support to any victim of terrorism who requests it. At least one of our coordinators is present every day at the trial, wearing a distinctive white jacket with the V-Europe logo on the back. Feel free to let them know you are there if you wish. More information about our coordinators can be found on the V-Europe website, by calling this number:
Do you want to be represented at the trial? V-Europe has set up a group of lawyers who defend the victims during the trial. Guillaume Lys, Nicolas Estienne, Adrien Masset and Sanne de Clerck are joining forces to defend you during this long trial. More information here or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
We want to hear your opinion!
Do you have any advice or remarks to improve the newsletter? Do not hesitate to send an e-mail to Florian Jehin: email@example.com.