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Paris Attacks Suspect Remains Silent In Brussels Court


A court artist's drawing of Salah Abdeslam prior to the opening of his trial at the Palais de Justice in Brussels on February 5.

Salah Abdeslam, the main suspect in the Paris terrorist attacks of November 2015, refused to answer any questions on February 6 during the first day of his trial in Belgium.

Asked by the judge whether he could be interrogated, Abdeslam replied: "No, I will not answer any question."

"My silence does not make me guilty, or a criminal," he added.

The trial, which opened amid tight security, marks the first public sighting of Salah Abdeslam since he led police on a four-month international manhunt following the attacks that killed 130 people at the Paris Bataclan concert hall and in nearby bars, restaurants, and the national stadium on November 13, 2015.

The Islamic State (IS) extremist group claimed responsibility for the attacks, along with another set of attacks in Brussels that killed 32 people in March 2016.

The hearings do not relate directly to the Paris attacks of November 2015 or the subsequent terror attack in Brussels, although prosecutors say Abdeslam has links to cells responsible for both mass killings.

Abdeslam, 28, and his alleged accomplice, Sofien Ayari, a 24-year-old Tunisian, face up to 40 years in prison on attempted murder charges for shooting at Belgian and French police who raided a suspected hideout in a Brussels borough on March 15, 2016.

He was arrested on March 18, 2016, close to his family home in the poor Brussels area of Molenbeek.

Abdeslam is a French citizen who was born to and raised by Moroccan immigrant parents in Brussels.

With reporting by AFP and Reuters