The main suspect on trial over the deadly 2015 Paris attacks told a Paris court on Wednesday that the Islamic State network which struck the city was attacking France but it was “nothing personal”.
Thought to be the only surviving attacker in the case, Salah Abdeslam was quoted as saying “we attacked France, we targeted the population but it was nothing personal” as he appeared in the special courtroom built for the trial.
The 2015 Islamist attacks in Paris that killed 130 people and left hundreds more wounded took place on the night of Friday 13 November. The network targeted bars, restaurants, the Bataclan concert hall and the Stade de France stadium in gun and bomb attacks.
Abdeslam blamed the French planes which bombarded the Islamic State for the November 13 attack, stating, “François Hollande knew the risks he was taking by attacking the Islamic State in Syria.”
The 31 year old suspect, one of 14 on trial, interrupted proceedings to tell the judge he thought he and his fellow defendants were being treated as if they had already been found guilty.
Earlier in the trial he also said that those suspected of helping him get back to Brussels after the attacks were not involved in the Paris attack plot, after which the judge reprimanded him for time wasting, eventually cutting off his microphone.
“Let me remind you that you have had five years to explain yourself and you said nothing,” Peries told Abdeslam.
Other defendants also spoke briefly, some expressing their “compassion” for the victims, while others refused to comment at this stage.
Victims and survivors will be present throughout the nine-month-long trial, and some have already made comment.
“I will testify, I am waiting to be able to answer him, tell him what my November 13 was like, to see people die on me. I will tell him at the stand, I will not take my eyes off him and I will hope he won’t take his eyes off me,” said Sophie Parra, 37, a survivor of the Bataclan attack.
Victim testimonies are set to begin on September 28. Questioning of the accused will start in November but they are not set to testify about the night of the attacks until March 2022. The verdict is expected in late May next year.