Belgium has opened the country’s largest-ever criminal trial against 10 suspects accused of being part of the terrorist cell that carried out the 2016 terror attacks in Brussels.
The bombings were carried out at Brussels Airport (BRU) and an underground metro station and killed 32 people and injured more than 300.
Hearings, which officially started in Brussels on December 5, 2022, are expected to take up to eight months. At least 1,000 people, including survivors, witnesses, and experts, are expected to be represented.
Nine alleged members of the Daesh group cell, the global terrorist group also known as ISIS, who launched both the March 2016 suicide bombings in Belgium and the November 2015 attacks in Paris, currently face terrorism charges, including potential life sentences if convicted.
Meanwhile, the tenth suspect, who is accused of being the lead planner of the attacks, is presumed dead, and will be tried in absentia. Presiding judge Laurence Massart confirmed the identity of the defendants, according to The New York Times.
Deadliest attack on Belgium
The attacks, which were the worst Belgium had ever seen in its territory, took place on March 22, 2016.
The first attack was carried out in the departure lounge at Brussels Airport (BRU). Two suicide bombers detonated their suitcase bombs causing two explosions. According to a special report released by International Institute for Counter-Terrorism, at least 14 people were killed and at least 106 were injured from the explosions at the time.
Meanwhile, a single suicide bomber detonated his explosive belt inside a train car at the Maelbeek underground metro station, located near the European Parliament. According to Belgian officials, more than 20 people were killed and at least 130 were injured.
The combined attacks killed at least 30 people and injured more than 340 survivors.
ISIS later claimed responsibility for both attacks.
It is expected that the hearings will be held until at least June 2023.