Belgium to try 14 over 2015 Paris attacks

BRUSSELS: Belgium will put 14 suspects on trial for allegedly aiding those who carried out the November 2015 Paris attacks that left 130 people dead, the federal prosecution service said Wednesday.
Those facing trial are accused of having transported, housed or provided material support to the bombers and gunmen who hit targets including cafes and a popular music venue in the French capital.
Twelve of them will face charges of “participating in the activities of a terrorist group” over the attack, prosecution spokesman Eric Van Duyse told AFP.
The decision to send them to trial was announced at a closed-door hearing in the Belgian capital and is subject to appeal.
The trial could take part in the second half of 2021 in Brussels.
Investigators believe the devastating 2015 carnage in Paris, claimed by the Islamic State group, was in large part planned in Belgium, where several of the suspected attackers came from.
Two of the suspects will be tried in absentia after they are believed to have died fighting for IS in Syria.
Some of those standing trial face charges linked to helping the only surviving alleged perpetrator, Salah Abdeslam, to hide until he was finally tracked down and arrested in Brussels in March 2016.
One of them, Abid Aberkane, is facing trial for hiding the suspected jihadist at his mother’s home in the last days before his arrest.
His mother was among five people who had their cases dismissed on Wednesday.
The other defendants are accused of coming from the entourage around Abdelslam and the attackers who carried out the 2016 Brussels bombings that left 32 dead in the country’s worst peace-time atrocity.
France is to hold a separate trial for 20 people charged over the Paris attacks in September 2021, prosecutors have said.

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