Salah Abdeslam, the only surviving member of the 10-man cell of the Islamic State (IS) group that carried out the Paris attacks of November 2015, testified before a special court in the French capital on Tuesday, revealing details of his life before that fateful night, when the jihadists killed 130 people and injured hundreds in a massacre.
Abdeslam described his childhood during his first hearing in the Paris bombings case.
Wearing a gray blazer over a light-colored shirt, Abdeslam, 32, described his childhood, saying he was a “calm” child and a “good student”.
His hearing came five weeks after the start of the trial, the largest in the history of modern France, which took place in a specially constructed facility in central Paris.
The main defendant in the case was questioned for more than two hours, said Claire Paccalin of AXADLETM, reporting from the courthouse.
“The purpose of the interrogation of Salah Abdeslam was not on the events of November 13, it was on his personality. The idea is that the presiding judge and the rest of the courtroom should understand who he is and where he is from, ”she explained.
“I am the fourth of five siblings. I have three older brothers and a younger sister, ”said Abdeslam. Asked about his childhood, he described it as “very simple”, adding that he was “a calm, kind person”.
Abdeslam’s lawyer questioned his client about his conditions of detention, which prompted some interesting exchanges between the accused and the presiding judge, Paccalin said.
While Abdeslam described his conditions in solitary confinement as harsh, he said he never complained. “The president reminded him that, no, you complained earlier about the conditions of detention and reminded him that the conditions were in place to prevent a suicide attempt,” said Paccalin.
Abdeslam, who threw his faulty explosive vest in a public trash can, was captured in March 2016 after a shootout with police in the Brussels suburb of Molenbeek, where he grew up.
The trial of the Paris attacks is expected to last until May 2022, with 145 days of scheduled hearings involving around 330 lawyers and 300 victims.