Belgium Begins Largest-Ever Trial Over 2016 Bombing

Image copyright: Pool/EPA [via Al Jazeera]

The Facts

  • On Wednesday, Belgium began its largest-ever criminal trial prosecuting 10 alleged jihadists accused of directing or aiding the 2016 suicide bombings in Brussels' metro and airport that killed 32 people.

  • Nine defendants were present, including prime suspect Abdeslam Salah, who has been convicted in France for his role in the 2015 Paris attacks that killed 130 people. One suspect, Osama Krayem, refused to stand, and another, Oussama Atar, is presumed dead.

The Spin

Establishment-critical narrative

Six years after the deadliest peacetime attack in Belgium's history, victims and their families have yet to receive any semblance of closure. In an embarrassing display of passivity, Brussels prioritized the wants of the accused over the needs of the victims. The trial, while an important step, isn't off to a good start.

Pro-establishment narrative

While there's no argument that victims — and the country as a whole — deserve justice and those responsible must be held accountable, Belgium has a responsibility to ensure a fair trial for the accused. Amid concerns that the glass boxes would inhibit the defendants' abilities to communicate with their lawyers, the court was right to delay the proceedings.

Establishment split



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