Defendants sit in a specially designed glass box in the courtroom, behind their lawyers EPA-EFE/OLIVIER MATTHYS / POOL


Belgian court finds eight guilty of Brussels terror attacks


Seven years after the devastating Islamic terror attacks in the Belgian capital, a Brussels court on July 25 found six offenders guilty of all charges and two “partly guilty”. Two more of the 10 on trial were acquitted.

Officially, 32 people died in the 2016 attacks but the court ruled that 35 people were killed as jurors decided three deaths that occurred later could clearly be attributed to the incident.

The terrorist outrages occurred at the Belgian capital’s main airport and on the metro system and were claimed by the Islamic State group.

At the Brussels trial,  Salah Abdeslam was found guilty as a “co-perpetrator of murder and attempted murder in a terrorist context”. He was also found guilty of “participating in the activities of a terrorist organisation”.

Mohamed Abrini, referred to by media as “the man in a hat” based on CCTV images on the day of the attack, was found guilty of murder, attempted murder and taking part in terrorist activities, as was Ali El Haddad Asufi and Osama Krayem.

Oussama Atar was found guilty of murder and attempted murder. He is considered by many to be the originator of the Brussels atrocities and played an important role within Islamic State. He is believed to have been killed in a drone attack in Syria in 2017.

Bilal El Makhoukhi was convicted as a co-perpetrator to murder and attempted murder.

The two partly convicted men are Sofien Ayari and Hervé Bayingana Muhirwa. The court acquitted them of murder and attempted murder but found them guilty of terrorist activities.

Smail Farisi and his brother Ibrahim Farisi were acquitted of all charges.

The 12 jurors deliberated their verdict for 18 days, a Belgian record for a criminal trial.

Six of the convicted men face up to life imprisonment while the two found partly guilty could get up to 10 years. Sentencing will take place in September.

The Belgian atrocities came after similar attacks in Paris a year earlier, for which several of the convicted Brussels defendants, who had fled the capital for Belgium, had already been tried by the assize courts in the French capital and given prison sentences ranging from 10 years to life.

In that terrorist incident, 130 people died with hundreds of travellers and transport staff injured.