Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Why Lawyers for Salah Abdeslam, Last Paris Bomber, Have Dropped the Case

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Why Lawyers for Salah Abdeslam, Last Paris Bomber, Have Dropped the Case

Article excerpt

Salah Abdeslam, the sole living suspect in the terrorist attacks that killed 130 people in Paris last November, isn't talking.

Lawyers for the suspect, who has been held in solitary confinement since being picked up in his native Belgium and extradited to France, say their client's silence is because of constantly running surveillance cameras that has exacerbated the mental health effects of his confinement.

"I've been convinced for months that he is isolating and radicalizing himself, he is taking his video surveillance very badly," said lawyer Frank Berton, a high-profile criminal lawyer in France, at a press conference on Wednesday, according to the Associated Press. "This is not blackmail, it's just the reality of his psychological and psychic state. The problem is related to his solitary confinement."

Previous requests by Mr. Berton and his co-counsel Sven Mary, Mr. Abdeslam's Belgian lawyer, to remove the cameras were rejected by a judge. Both lawyers now say they are resigning from the case because of their client's decision not to speak.

"We are convinced, and he told us so, that he will not talk and will use his right to remain silent. What can we do? I have said it from the beginning: If my client remains silent, I drop his defense," said Berton on French television, according to Reuters.

A lawyer for the families of some of the victims dismisses the idea that the cameras have anything to do with the suspect's silence.

"Salah Abdeslam is refusing to cooperate," lawyer Samia Maktouf told Reuters. "The video surveillance is just a pretext."

It may trigger painful memories for some Parisians. Mr. Abdeslam had originally said that he wanted to explain how he came to take part in the attacks, which targeted the Bataclan concert hall, the national stadium, and several cafes in the French capital. …

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