Jury selected ahead of the Brussels 2016 terror attacks trial

© AFP/Archives

The arduous process of jury selection began today ahead the trial of nine alleged jihadists suspected of involvement in the 2016 terrorist attacks in Belgium, in which 32 people died. Five of the accused have already been sentenced by a Paris court for their roles in the terrorist attacks in November 2015.

The court in Brussels has summoned 1,000 citizens in order to choose among them 12 main jurors with 24 understudies on standby and able to follow daily evidence hearings for months.

The trial should have begun in October, but there was controversy over the dock, in which the accused were to have been held in individual glass-walled boxes. The defendants' areas were rebuilt as a single, shared space.

Hearings are scheduled to begin on 5 December, in the former headquarters of the NATO military alliance, temporarily converted into a huge high-security court complex.

Links to Paris attacks

The nine accused are suspected of having helped with the preparation and perpetration of near-simultaneous bomb attacks in the departures area of Brussels Zaventem airport and in a station of the metro system on 22 March 2016.

Five of the Brussels accused have already been sentenced to long periods in jail for their parts in the Paris attacks.

The mastermind of the Bataclan murders, Oussama Atar, will be tried in his absence. He is believed to have died in an international coalition airstrike against an Islamic State camp in Syria.

Other possible targets?

Investigators believe that the terrorists were planning a much more ambitious attack, targeting the Euro 2016 football competition in France.


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