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Bruguière accused of playing too personal

(B2 archives) The trial of 23 people accused of being linked to the Bin Laden terrorist network opens against a backdrop of controversy with the French justice system.

It was in a fairly calm and good-natured atmosphere that the trial of 23 people suspected of being linked to the Al Qaeda terrorist networks opened on Thursday in Brussels. But the solemnity of the place — exceptionally the 54e chamber of the criminal court sits in the Assize Court - and the seriousness of the alleged facts - a link with Bin Laden's Al-Qaeda movement - give a different relief to this trial.

Certain defendants are in fact accused of having provided logistical assistance, false passports among others, to the assassins of Commander Massoud, killed in Afghanistan on September 9, 2001, two days before the attack on the World Trade Center, by two Tunisians in possession of fake Belgian passports. The other defendants are suspected of having planned an attack against Kleine Brogel, a Belgian military base located in Limburg and which houses nuclear weapons and an American detachment.

From the first routine questions, a certain tension is present. President Claire de Gryse therefore has great difficulty in having certain dates and facts reproached by the defendants confirmed. Memory lapses, refusal to answer or even pure reversals of testimony multiply. One of the accused appearing free, Mohamed Fehti, will not hesitate, thanks to the adjournment of the session, to try to attack one of his associates. Holding this trial is also made difficult by the fact that certain elements of the file are in France. According to the Federal Prosecutor's Office's own admission, Nizar Trabelsi's lawyers will have some difficulty interviewing his partner, Amal Halim, currently placed under judicial supervision... in Corsica.

In this absence of Franco-Belgian cooperation, Trabelsi's lawyer, Didier de Quévy, does not hesitate to point the finger at the culprit: Judge Bruguière, “obsessed with the idea that the Trabelsi file is escaping him; he wanted to repatriate him to Paris.” The French judge's “cowboy” methods and his latent “paranoia” are highlighted by others close to the case. At the Bruguière cabinet, we refuse to argue and we hide behind the secrecy of the investigation. But the matter might not stop there. Didier de Quévy, Trabelsi's lawyer, intends to file conclusions with the court today to formalize his request.

Nicolas Gros-Verheyde (in Brussels)
article published in France-Soir, May 2003

Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).