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.


“No-deal” Brexit would hit trucks, airlines and pet owners — govt papers

Updated 24 September 2018
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“No-deal” Brexit would hit trucks, airlines and pet owners — govt papers

LONDON: Leaving the European Union without a proper divorce deal could ground airlines, stop hauliers from lugging goods to the world’s biggest trading bloc and even make headaches for pet owners who want to take their dogs on holiday, according to government documents.
With just six months to go until the United Kingdom is due to leave the EU on March 29, Prime Minister Theresa May has warned that negotiations are at an impasse and that the EU must come up with new proposals on how to craft a divorce settlement.
Many business chiefs and investors fear politics could scupper an agreement, thrusting the world’s fifth largest economy into a “no-deal” Brexit that they say would spook financial markets and silt up the arteries of trade.
Britain, which has warned it could leave without a deal, published 25 technical notices on Monday covering everything from commercial road haulage and buying timber to airline regulations and taking pets abroad.
“If the UK leaves the EU in March 2019 with no agreement in place, UK and EU licensed airlines would lose the automatic right to operate air services between the UK and the EU without seeking advance permission,” the government said.
Overall, the government has published more than 65 such notices giving a glimpse of what a no-deal Brexit — the nightmare scenario for chief executives of most multinationals operating in Britain — would look like.
Amid warnings that trucks could stack up on both sides of the English Channel in the confusion of a no deal, Britain said it would seek to strike bilateral agreements with European countries to ensure hauliers would retain access.
The notices covered a vast swathe of the British economy, warning, for example, that labels on packaged food would have to be changed.
“Use of the term ‘EU’ in origin labelling would no longer be correct for food or ingredients from the UK,” the government said.
Honey producers would have to change their labels while EU countries might not accept British mineral water, the government said.
In the worse case scenario for pet owners, dogs, cats and even ferrets might need health certificates and rabies jabs. Travel plans would have to be discussed with a vet at least four months in advance before traveling to the EU.
That would mean someone wanting to take their pet to the EU on March 30, 2019, the day after Britain leaves the bloc, would have to discuss the trip with a vet before the end of November.
Without a deal, the UK would move from seamless trade with the rest of the EU to customs arrangements set by the World Trade Organization for external states with no preferential deals.
Brexiteers accept there is likely to be some short-term economic pain but say the government is trying to scare voters about the impact of a no-deal Brexit.
Britain, many Brexiteers say, will thrive in the longer term if cut loose from what they see as a doomed experiment in German-dominated unity and excessive debt-funded welfare spending.