Belgium on Monday begins legal proceedings in its largest-ever trial to determine whether 10 men took part in the 2016 suicide bombings in Brussels that killed 32 people and wounded more than 300.
Chief Justice Lawrence Massart in the trial of those accused of participating in the bombings (AFP)
More than six years after the attacks, Judge Lawrence Massart, President of the Court, will today determine the identity of all parties to the case, including the defendants and lawyers representing about a thousand people affected by the attacks for which ISIS claimed responsibility.
Massart will then speak to the jury, which was chosen from a group of 1,000 Belgians last week in a 14-hour process.
The accused, Bilal Al-Mukhoukhi, arrives at the courthouse in Brussels last Wednesday (AFP)
There is a clear link between the trial and the one conducted by France over the Paris attacks in November 2015. Six of the defendants in the Brussels bombings were sentenced to prison terms ranging from 10 years to life in France in June, but the Belgian trial will be different from It will be decided by a jury, not judges.
Accused Sofiane Ayari arrives at the trial venue in Brussels last Wednesday (AFP)
The double bombing at Brussels Airport and a third bomb in the city’s metro on March 22, 2016, killed 15 men and 17 women of various nationalities, many of them residing in Brussels, which houses European Union institutions and NATO headquarters.
Nine of the ten men are charged with multiple murders and attempted murder in a terrorist context and carry possible life sentences, and all have been charged with participating in the activities of a terrorist group.
Prosecutors are expected to begin reading the 486-page indictment on Tuesday, before the start of hearings for some 370 experts and witnesses.
The trial at the former NATO headquarters is expected to last seven months and is estimated to cost at least 35 million euros ($36.9 million).