New Belgian trial date set for Paris attacks suspect after lawyer seeks delay

In this Thursday, April 7, 2016 file photo, Belgian lawyer Sven Mary leaves a justice building in Brussels. Salah Abdeslam, the lone surviving suspect in the Paris extremist massacres of November 2015, chose Mary to represent him. (AP)
Updated 18 December 2017
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New Belgian trial date set for Paris attacks suspect after lawyer seeks delay

BRUSSELS: A Belgian court has set a new trail date of Feb. 5 for Paris attacks suspect Salah Abdeslam over a shooting in Brussels that led to his capture.
Abdeslam, the sole surviving suspect of the November 2015 Paris attacks which left 130 people dead, was due to face trial in the Belgian capital this week.
But last week the court said it agreed to set a new date at Monday’s hearing following an application by Abdeslam’s lawyer Sven Mary.
According to Belgian media reports the trial will be put back to January or February.
Abdeslam and Sofian Ayari, also implicated in the shootout, face charges of “attempting to murder several police officers in a terrorist context” and “carrying prohibited weapons in a terrorist context.”
Both men were captured days after the March 15, 2016 shootout, ending a four-month manhunt for Abdeslam for his alleged role in the Paris attacks.
The 28-year-old is linked to the same cell that carried out suicide bombings in Brussels a week after the gunbattle. Thirty-two people were killed at Brussels airport and a metro station near the EU’s headquarters.
Abdeslam, born in Brussels of Moroccan origin, has spent nearly 20 months in isolation, under 24-hour video surveillance, at a prison in the Paris region since his transfer to France in April last year.
He has refused to cooperate with investigators and his offer to appear at the Brussels trial came as a surprise.
The hearings are a highly-anticipated chance to see if he has changed his mind about keeping mum.


Britain condemns Israel bias at UN rights council

Updated 18 June 2018
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Britain condemns Israel bias at UN rights council

  • British foreign secretary Boris Johnson criticized the council’s controversial Agenda Item 7, a permanent fixture on the schedule exclusively devoted to discussing rights abuses in the Palestinian Territories.
  • Johnson noted however that the council had an important role to play in “the Israeli-Palestinian conflict under the right agenda item.”

GENEVA: Britain on Monday urged the UN Human Rights Council to reform its treatment of Israel, joining the United States in demanding an end to the body’s alleged bias against the Jewish State.
Addressing the opening of the 38th council session, British foreign secretary Boris Johnson criticized the council’s controversial Agenda Item 7, a permanent fixture on the schedule exclusively devoted to discussing rights abuses in the Palestinian Territories.
“We share the view that the dedicated Agenda Item 7 focused solely on Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories is disproportionate and damaging to the cause of peace, and unless things change we shall vote next year against all resolutions introduced under Item 7,” Johnson said.
Israel is the only country with a dedicated council item.
Washington, some European countries and Australia have sided with Israel in condemning Item 7 as prejudiced, noting that countries with arguably worse rights records in recent years, like Syria are spared such intense scrutiny.
While previous US administrations have criticized Item 7, President Donald Trump’s government has raised the prospect of withdrawing from the council unless it is scrapped.
Johnson noted however that the council had an important role to play in “the Israeli-Palestinian conflict under the right agenda item.”
Each council session includes an agenda item on so-called country specific situations, known as Agenda Item 4, where debates on the crises in Syria, Burundi and others typically take place.