Fourteen(14) people have went on trial in Belgium on Tuesday, accused of helping an extremist group that has almost killed 130 people in the gun and bombs attacks across Paris in 2015.
The 13 men and one woman are accused of supporting the self-avowed ISIS combatants before their attacks on the evening of November 13, 2015, and afterwards for the one attacker who survived and returned to Brussels.
Nine (9) of the accused were present on Tuesday, seven seated at the front of the court, two led in by guards to closed glass boxes. Two accused are believed to have died in Syria.
The trial is going on in the former headquarters of NATO in a Brussels suburb with heightened security. Armed police patrolled the perimeter and corridors and guarded the entry area of the vast impromptu courtroom.
Around twelve(12) of the accused face charges of leading a terrorist group or participating in terrorist activities, with potential prison terms of up to 15 and five years.
Prosecutors said that they had helped attackers travel to Syria or supplied them with arms.
Some are accused of secretly housing Salah Abdeslam, a 32-year-old French national of Moroccan origin who is now the main suspect in a trial of more significant attacks participants in Paris. Abdeslam hid for four months until his capture, four days before a twin attack in Brussels that has almost killed 32 people.
Two groups face non-terrorist charges, one for having supplied false documents to those involved in both the Paris attacks and the bombings at Brussels Airport and on the Brussels metro in March 2016. The other is accused of handling arms and explosive materials.
The presiding judge asked the accused present to confirm their names, dates of birth and addresses before one set of defence lawyers sought to dismiss the case against his client. The case was then adjourned.
Hearings are scheduled to run until May 20, with rulings expected by the end of June.