Four and a half years after the Brussels terror attacks of March 2016, 13 defendants suspected of being involved are heard starting Monday. The hearings are set to take place behind closed doors for two weeks.
The court will determine on which charges the defendants must be judged, which will determine what kind of trial they could face — either in a criminal court or in a court of assizes. Out of the 16 overall suspects, three have died during the attacks: Najim Laachraoui and Ibrahim El Bakraoui in Zaventem and Ibrahim’s brother Khalid El Bakraoui in the metro.
Among the defendants are Mohamed Abrini, known as the “man with the hat,” alleged to be one of the suicide bombers who fled the Zaventem airport and Salah Abdeslam who was on the run since the Paris attacks of November 2015.
Just like the rest of the investigation, proceedings will take place behind closed doors to preserve secrecy, as Le Soir reports. They’ll take place in the former NATO headquarters in the Brussels commune of Evere, with a capacity of about 1,300 people in compliance with sanitary measures. 650 people joined a civil action in the proceedings.
The next step of the Brussels trial will take place in the second semester of 2022, and should last for six to nine months. Six of the defendants will be first trialed in Paris as suspects in the November 2015 attack. The French trial will kick off in September 2021 and is expected to last for six months.
The Brussels terror attacks took the lives of 32 people and left 340 injured at the Maalbeek metro station and the Zaventem airport on March 22, 2016.