Salah Abdeslam will return to prison in France. The Brussels court rejected on Wednesday September 3 the request made by the French jihadist to be able to remain in Belgium after the trial of the 2016 attacks in Brussels.

The thirty-year-old had applied to this court for summary proceedings (urgently) as the end of the assize trial approached, and the deadline for his “temporary surrender” by France to Belgium to appear there. He maintained that he wanted to remain in detention in Belgium, in particular because his entire family lives there, and that remaining a prisoner in France would deprive him of any “hope of reintegration”. The request was made to the Belgian State, asked to “prohibit” this return to France.

The summary chamber of the French-speaking court of first instance in Brussels rejected his arguments. “The detention in France of Mr. Abdeslam does not appear, given the geographical proximity of this country in particular, to prevent him from benefiting from the support of his loved ones there, nor from him being able to prepare a social reintegration project there,” explained in a press release the civil jurisdiction.

The order also brushes aside the allegations of Abdeslam’s lawyers on an alleged violation of the European Convention on Human Rights, during the first years of his detention in complete solitary confinement in Fleury-Mérogis (Essonne), after his arrest in 2016.

Sentenced to irreducible life imprisonment

At the hearing on September 4, the lawyers criticized “24-hour” video surveillance by two cameras fixed in his cell, fearing that Abdeslam would “languish for thirty years” in these conditions before a hypothetical sentence modification.

“It is not up to the summary court to rule on possible violations of fundamental rights in the past in France,” replied the judge of the Brussels court. “Camera surveillance is only applied in France to defendants [detainees awaiting trial] and not to convicted prisoners. There is no indication that the French authorities will not respect their own legislation,” she adds.

The only surviving member of the commandos who attacked Paris on November 13, 2015 (130 dead), Salah Abdeslam was sentenced in June 2022 in France to irreducible life imprisonment for his participation in these attacks. This sentence means that he will only be able to request a sentence modification after thirty years in prison, i.e. in 2046 at the earliest.

In Brussels, in a trial started in December 2022, he was declared co-perpetrator of the suicide attacks of March 22, 2016 (35 dead), also claimed by the Islamic State organization. Found guilty of “assassinations in a terrorist context”, he risks a new life prison sentence if the court follows the prosecution’s requisitions. Same thing for five of his co-defendants. The verdict is expected by the end of the week.