Paris attacks: Lawyers will no longer defend main suspect Salah Abdeslam

Paris: Lawyers for the main suspect in the Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, said that they will no longer defend him, speaking during a TV interview on Wednesday.

"We both decided to give up his defence," lawyer Frank Berton said in an interview with BFM TV.

 Paris attacks: Lawyers will no longer defend main suspect Salah Abdeslam

Representational image. PTI

"We don't think that he will speak and he will use the right to remain silent," said Berton in a joint interview with fellow lawyer Sven Mary.

"In this position what would you like us to do. We said from the beginning... that if our client remained silent we would quit his defence," Berton added.

"When you have the feeling of being there to make social visits to the prison, that is the moment when a decision has to be made," added Mary.

Abdeslam has refused to answer questions since being transferred to France from Belgium in April and is believed to be angry at round-the-clock surveillance of his jail cell.

After four months on the run, Abdeslam was arrested on 18 March in Molenbeek, a Brussels neighbourhood notorious for being a hotbed of Islamic extremism, where he grew up.

He was transferred to France to face terror charges on 27 April. Abdeslam has refused to answer questions since being transferred to France from Belgium in April.

Investigators have yet to pin down Abdeslam's exact role in the coordinated attacks on Paris bars, restaurants, a concert hall and the national stadium last November in which 130 people were killed. Abdeslam is the sole surviving member of the group behind the 13 November carnage at a Paris concert hall, bars and the national stadium that left 130 people dead and scores injured.

The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the atrocity, one of a string of attacks claimed by the jihadists that have put Europe on edge.

Berton said he had seen his client around 10 times and had regularly spoken to him on the phone.

He said the 27-year-old Belgian-born French national had written to the authorities to tell them he no longer wanted representation.

Just like 'social visits'

Mary, his Belgian counsel, said he had felt as if his role was just to "pay social visits to the prison".

Abdeslam has protested at the round-the-clock CCTV surveillance of his jail cell in Fleury-Merogis prison south of Paris, where he is being held in solitary confinement.

The CCTV surveillance was the "clear" reason why he was tightlipped, said Berton.

"Authorisation for the surveillance is valid for three months and the minister of justice is going to decide shortly on whether to renew it," Berton said. "I sense that he (Abdeslam) will contest this as well."

Abdeslam drove the three suicide bombers who blew themselves up outside the Stade de France to the stadium and then roamed the city before fleeing to Belgium the next day.

He told investigators there he had also wanted to blow himself up at the Stade de France but had changed his mind.

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Updated Date: Oct 12, 2016 15:49:00 IST