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Paris attack suspect refuses to answer questions in court

BRUSSELS A prime suspect in the 2015 Paris attacks said he would answer no questions as his trial in Belgium over a shooting that preceded his arrest got under way in Brussels yesterday.

Salah Abdeslam, 28, who was arrested in March 2016, was asked by the judge to rise and identify himself.

He remained seated.

"I do not wish to answer questions," Abdeslam said.

After a session in which his alleged accomplice admitted to having fought for Islamic State in Iraq and Syria and said both accused were present during the March 2016 shoot-out with Brussels police, the judge again asked Abdeslam to speak.

Citing his right to silence and declaring his Muslim faith, he accused the media of condemning him before his trial: "Judge me. Do as you want with me.

"I put my trust in my Lord.

"I remain silent. That is a right which I have," he said, adding: "My silence does not make me a criminal or guilty.

"I am defending myself by remaining silent."

He asked the prosecution to base itself on forensic evidence "and not swagger about to satisfy public opinion", adding:"Muslims are judged and treated in the worst kind of ways. They are judged without mercy. There is no presumption of innocence."

That reluctance to engage with the court may disappoint Parisians who hoped that he might end more than two years of silence to give some indication of how and why the attacks that killed 130 people were organised.- REUTERS

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