From left to right: Ayoub El Khazzani, Bilal Chatra, Redouane El Amrani Ezzerrifi and Mohamed Bakkali -
BENOIT PEYRUCQ / AFP
Four men, involved in the attack on a Thalys connecting Paris to Amsterdam in August 2015, have been appearing before the special assize court since Monday.
A passenger was seriously injured.
Ayoub El Khazzani, who opened fire inside the train, responds to "attempted assassinations in connection with a terrorist enterprise" and "criminal terrorist association".
This Moroccan citizen, then 26 years old, was acting on the instruction of Abdelhamid Abaaoud, coordinator of the terrorist cell that struck France and Belgium in 2015 and 2016.
This Tuesday, the attorneys general presented their requisitions.
They do not have the same nationality, did not know each other before the events.
But the four defendants have one thing in common: they "all crossed Abaaoud at one time," notes one of the two attorneys general who presented their requisitions for three hours on Tuesday.
The jihadist is "a central figure" in this dossier.
It is also "the big absent in this box" since he was killed in Saint-Denis (Seine-Saint-Denis) during the attack of the Raid, a few months after the attack of the Thalys.
In the summer of 2015, he was one of the most wanted terrorists in the world by Western intelligence services who believed so in Syria.
In fact, he was already on the old continent where he was coordinating a series of attacks on behalf of Daesh.
And the accused, underlines the magistrate, knew it.
“What we will not forget is that on the evening of November 13, when we were counting our deaths on the sidewalks of Paris, you were hiding the only thing that could have prevented this massacre: the presence of Abdelhamid Abaaoud in Europe.
We don't forget and we don't forgive.
»Against the four men, tried for their involvement to varying degrees in the Thalys attack in August 2015, the advocates general therefore requested severe sentences, ranging from 8 years in prison to life imprisonment.
Ayoub El Khazzani
On August 21, 2015, by order of Abaaoud, Ayoub El Khazzani boarded a Thalys in Brussels.
A few minutes later, the now 31-year-old jihadist comes out of the toilet armed with a Kalashnikov, a pistol and a cutter.
"Except that behind the door" is Damien A., a passenger who tries to control him, "changing the fate of this announced massacre".
"Rarely has a terrorist been confronted with so many obstacles", ironically the magistrate who salutes the "heroes" who made it possible to put an end to the attack.
He explains that "at no time did he give up" his "disastrous project", contrary to what the accused affirms throughout the trial.
He requested against him life imprisonment with a security period of 22 years.
Thalys attack: Ayoub El Khazzani's evasive responses frustrate the Assize Court (via @ 20Minutes) https://t.co/8covKxwHjI
- Thibaut Chevillard (@TiboChevillard) December 9, 2020
Behind this baby face hides the one who was nicknamed in Syria "Abu Hamza the sniper".
For the prosecution, the young man played the role of "scout" by guiding Ayoub El Khazzani and Abdelhamid Abaaoud between Syria and Belgium.
The Advocate General underlines the "absence of remorse" in this 24-year-old Algerian who "showed his unwavering loyalty to the terrorist organization", and who "at any time can switch back".
Against the one he describes as a "time bomb", he demanded 30 years in prison, with a two-thirds safety period.
The prosecution claims that Mohamed Bakkali was the “driver” of Ayoub El Khazzani and Abdelhamid Abaaoud.
This 33-year-old Belgian is said to have been looking for the two men in Hungary and Germany to take them to a conspiratorial apartment in Brussels.
Already implicated in the attacks of November 13, he has always denied his involvement in the Thalys attack.
But the "telephone elements" of the file "designate" formally as the driver, estimates the Advocate General who requested a 25-year prison sentence against him, with a safety period of two thirds.
Redouane El Amrani Ezzerrifi
This 28-year-old Moroccan crossed the path of Abdelhamid Abaaoud in 2014. He notably lived for a month in Turkey in the same apartment as him.
After resuming his journey, this migrant allegedly gave the coordinators of the November 13 attacks information on the route to take to get to Belgium from Greece without attracting the attention of the security forces.
An eight-year prison sentence with a two-thirds safety period has been requested against him.
Defense lawyers will plead this Wednesday all day.
The verdict is expected at the end of the day on Thursday.
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Attack on a Thalys
Ayoub El Khazzani