Paris, Sep 8 (EFE).- Salah Abdeslam, the only surviving suspect in the Paris attacks, said he was “a soldier of the Islamic State” Wednesday at the start of a trial into the coordinated terror attacks in the French capital on 13 November 2015.
Abdeslam is one of 20 defendants, five of whom are dead, standing trial for their alleged roles in the attacks on the Bataclan concert hall, the Stade de France, and six café terraces killed 130 people and wounded more than 400.
When the tribunal chair Jean-Louis Périès asked Abdeslam for his occupation, the Belgian-born French national said he had abandoned any jobs to “become a soldier of the Islamic State.”
“There is no God other than Allah and Muhammad is his prophet,” said Abeslam, who is the only survivor of the group that allegedly perpetrated the attacks, after the judge asked him to stand up and identify himself.
The historic trial officially began at 10:30am UTC in the Palace of Justice of Paris, as tribunal chair Périès opened the session.
The building’s surroundings have been fortified with strict security measures, following warnings by intelligence services that the risk of terror attacks is still high in France.
Access to the premises is blocked by identity control systems along the security perimeter, and officials have redirected traffic on nearby roads.
The night of the attacks, “all of France was plunged into horror,” Minister of Justice Éric Dupont-Moretti told BFM TV. “Justice must rise to the challenge of the situation.”
The first week of the trial will consist of presentations of the accused and the organization of hearings, as well as the reading of a summary of about one million pages.
Starting Monday, witnesses will begin to take the stand, first with police and anti-terrorism services officials.