Paris attack case: accused gets last chance to speak before sentencing | Paris attacked

The only surviving member of a cell alleged to have carried out the terrorist bombings and shootings across Paris in November 2015 insisted he was not a murderer as the nine-month trial nears its end.

‘I made a mistake, but I’m not a hitman. I’m not a killer. “If you convict me of murder, you will commit an injustice,” Salah Abdeslam told the Paris Special Court on Monday.

“My first words are to the victims. I’m already said sorry.

“Some will say that my excuses are sincere, that it is a strategy, as if you needed a third person to judge. More than 130 dead, more than 400 victims, who can sincerely apologize for so much suffering? ” Abdeslam, 32, added.

The 14 men in the quay who are accused of involvement in the jihad attacks were given one last chance to speak before a verdict and sentencing are expected on Wednesday.

“It has not escaped anyone’s attention that I have evolved during this trial,” Abdeslam told the court. “I wanted to explain to you some incidents during my imprisonment, not for the purpose of complaining, far from it. It’s ridiculous to compare my pain with yours, but I would like to explain my development. “

Abdeslam, wearing a gray quilted sweater, described how a large prison guard “acted” and “pulled my hair” while he was imprisoned in Belgium after his arrest.

“What shocked me the most was the joy of being hurt myself,” he says.

Another time when he suffered from appendicitis, he says that he was “dragged like a dog to the hospital”, but in the face of “the friendliness of the nurses” he found that he “could not speak”.

Salah Abdeslam. Photo: National Police / AFP / Getty Images

Another defendant, Mohamed Bakkali, accused of offering assistance to the attackers, told the court: “I strongly condemn these attacks. I sincerely apologize to the victims. I did not do it before because the words had no place to meet their pain. “

Only one of those present, Osama Krayem, who has refused to speak throughout the trial, remained silent.

During the trial, which opened in September last year, Abdeslam described himself as a “fighter for the Islamic State”, but said he had chosen not to put off his suicide vest, which was found near a rubbish bin north of Paris.

However, an explosives expert from the police told the court that the suicide vest that Abdeslam is believed to have used was defective. The witness said that the detonators in front and behind were “defective” and that there was no switch or battery.

“I guess it could have been started with a match or a lighter. And if TATP [explosive] was dry enough that it could have gone by itself, he said.

The testimony raised doubts about Abdeslam’s allegations that he withdrew from participating in the attacks at the last minute.

The police expert said it was impossible to know if Abdeslam had tried to detonate the West: “We can not know: it is immediate, either it works or it does not work.”

IS claimed responsibility for the attacks on November 13, 2015, which began around 9pm with the detonation of a suicide bomb at the Stade de France and continued with a series of shootings and bombings at busy cafes and restaurants in the capital, and a massacre at the Bataclan Concert Hall.

Abdeslam, a Brussels-born French citizen, is accused of being the key to the international logistics operation that brings jihadists back to Europe from Syria, where they had fought.

He was arrested in March 2016, after a four-month hunt, in an exchange of gunfire with Belgian police in the Brussels suburb of Molenbeek-Saint-Jean. Days after he was remanded in custody, suicide bombers on suspicion of being part of the same terrorist cell at Brussels airport and the city’s metro system killed 32 people and injured hundreds.

The public prosecutor has requested a full life sentence for Abdeslam with very little, if any, opportunity to be released.

Olivia Ronen, Abdeslam’s lawyer, said such a sentence would be equivalent to a “slow death sentence”.

Prosecutors had claimed that the full life sentence – only four times in France since 2007 and then only for those who had killed a child after torturing or raping them – was justified in Abdeslam’s case because his rehabilitation back to society seemed impossible due to his «deadly ideology».

“I do not think a return to before would be possible,” said prosecutor Camille Hennetier, quoting Voltaire as saying, “Once fanaticism has rotted the brain, the disease is almost incurable.”

She added: “We are well aware of what this phrase means, but it is the only socially acceptable response to protect society.”

During cross-examination, Abdeslam – who until then had largely refused to speak since his arrest – told the court: “I did not kill anyone and I did not harm anyone. I have not inflicted any so much as a scratch. It is important for me to say this. “

He added: “What I can tell you is that I am not a danger to society.”

The legal process for the marathon is the largest criminal case ever in France. Fourteen suspects are in the quay and another six people are being tried in their absence, five of them are believed to have died in Iraq or Syria, while the sixth is in prison in Turkey.