Abdeslam remains quiet as investigatory hearing on Paris attacks ends

Paris attacks suspect Salah Abdeslam refused to make a statement in his first appearance before French investigating judges on Friday, according to his lawyer.

Lawyer Frank Berton said that his client used his right to remain silent during the hearing in which investigative judges were to question Abdeslam on his role in the November 13 terrorist attacks that left 130 people dead.

Abdeslam had been brought to the court in central Paris under high security from Fleury-Merogis prison in a southern suburb, where he is being held in isolation under 24-hour surveillance. He is thought to be the only surviving member of the group directly responsible for the attacks.

"He did not wish to make a statement today," Berton told reporters. Berton added that Abdeslam was "particularly disturbed" by the video surveillance in his prison cell, saying that it created, "psychologically, a difficulty" for Abdeslam.

Broadcaster BFM-TV reported that Abdeslam did not make any statements in the courtroom, even declining to answer judges' questions about his decision to remain silent. The 26-year-old French national appeared before the judges on charges of terrorist murder.

Abdeslam was extradited from Belgium to France in late April. He was detained by Belgian authorities on March 18, four months after the attacks in Paris in which all his suspected co-conspirators were killed or had detonated suicide vests.

According to a French state prosecutor, Abdeslam may have intended to blow himself up at the Stade de France football stadium, where three others had tried to infiltrate the stands as a France-Germany match was under way.

His arrest in Brussels came four days before attacks on the city's airport and a metro station near the European Parliament building.

Abdeslam and his brother Brahim - who blew himself up during the Paris attacks - had been interrogated by Belgian police in early 2015 because of suspicions that they wanted to travel to Syria, but they were released at the time without charges.

Last update: Fri, 20/05/2016 - 13:33
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