Paris Attacker’s Lawyers Resign, say His Silence Due to Constant Surveillance

Journalists surround Frank Berton, lawyer of Salah Abdeslam, outside the courthouse after the arrival of the Paris attacks suspect at the main law court in Paris, France, REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes/File picture

PARIS, Oct 12  – Lawyers for the only known survivor of a group of Islamist militants who killed 130 people in Paris last year on Wednesday resigned from the role, saying his continued refusal to testify was due to the conditions of his detention.

Salah Abdeslam, who has been held in solitary confinement near Paris since he was captured earlier this year, does not want to talk and no longer wants legal representation, his lawyers Frank Berton and Sven Mary said on BFM Television.

“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 defence,” Berton said.

Berton said that Abdeslam was refusing to talk because of the 24-hours-a-day camera monitoring in his high-security jail, conditions which the lawyers have repeatedly tried and failed to get changed.

“We have seen him slide away. Being watched all the time, with infrared at night, that drives one crazy, and that is a consequence of a political decision (to put Abdeslam on continuous monitoring,” he said.

Abdeslam’s Belgian lawyer Sven Mary said the solitary confinement was causing Abdeslam to clam up.

“The real victims of this are the victims of the Paris attacks. They have a right to know,” he said.

French authorities suspect Abdeslam, who fled the scene but was captured later, of playing a part in the organisation of the multiple machine gun and suicide bomb attacks on a music venue and bars in Paris and at a football stadium on the edge of the city.

Abdeslam had been spirited out of France and back to Belgium, his country of residence, by car in the hours after the attacks. He was captured in Belgium and shipped to France earlier this year.

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