Sunday 19 January 2020

Isis terror suspect Salah Abdeslam called an 'a*****e' by his own lawyer

'He has the intelligence of an empty ashtray, he's utterly vacuous'

Salah Abdeslam has been handed over to French authorities (Belgium Federal Police/AP)
Salah Abdeslam has been handed over to French authorities (Belgium Federal Police/AP)
Paris attacks suspect Salah Abdeslam Photo: Belgium Federal Police via AP

Alexandra Sim

Suspected Isis militant Salah Abdeslam has been dubbed an “asshole” with the “intelligence of an empty ashtray” by his defence lawyer, as he was formally charged with a host of terror offences in Paris.

Abdeslam – believed to be the only surviving member of the group that killed 130 people during the 13 November Paris attacks – was remanded in provisional custody on Wednesday. He will be held in solitary confinement, according to reports.

The charges came just hours after the 26-year-old was extradited from Brussels where he had been held since his capture last month.

Frank Berton, a high-profile French criminal lawyer, has said he will lead Abdesalm’s defence and told French reporters his client “has things to say and he will say them”, adding it was important he received a “fair trial”.

However, the suspect’s Belgian lawyer, Sven Mary, spoke in more critical terms about his client, dubbing him a "petit con" - a phrase translated as "little jerk" or "asshole".

Speaking to French newspaper Libération, Mr Mary said Abdeslam was a "little asshole from Molenbeek, who started off as a petty criminal”, adding he is “more of a follower than a leader”.

“He has the intelligence of an empty ashtray, he's utterly vacuous,” said Mr Mary.

“He's the perfect example of generation GTA [Grand Theft Auto], who think they live inside a video game.

“He and his friends have succeeded in making an entire religion look bad.”

Mr Mary, who has represented other Belgian extremists in the past, said Abdeslam’s radicalisation was likely to have occurred online.

He said the Isis extremist has a scant knowledge of Islam: “I asked him if he had read the Koran, […] and he said he had read his interpretation on the internet."

Speaking to the French regional newspaper La Voix du Nord, Mr Berton said he believed Mr Mary would also be part of the suspect’s defence team in France.

However, Mr Mary told Libération he did not know if he would continue working on the case, saying representing the terrorist has been a “hassle” and he had faced several attacks

"It's not easy to take on this defence that brings me nothing but hassle: I've been attacked several times, both verbally and physically," he said.

Testimony from Abdeslam could prove significant to definitively linking events of 13 November, which involved three teams of attackers who blew themselves up or sprayed gunfire at the Stade de France sports stadium, cafes and bars, and at the Bataclan.

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