Paris attacks trial: Defendant apologises to victims and asks for 'forgiveness'

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By Euronews  with AFP
A court sketch of Salah Abdeslam testifying at the trial on Thursday.
A court sketch of Salah Abdeslam testifying at the trial on Thursday.   -   Copyright  BENOIT PEYRUCQ / AFP   -  

The main defendant in the Paris terror attacks trial has apologised to the victims' families and asked for "forgiveness".

Salah Abdeslam is on trial, alongside thirteen others, over the November 2015 attacks in the French capital that killed 130 people.

The 32-year-old is suspected of being the only survivor of the so-called Islamic State (IS) terrorist cell that carried out the attacks.

On the final day of his testimony, Abdeslam offered his "condolences and apologies" to all the victims.

"I would like to say today that this story of 13 November was written with the blood of the victims," he told the special court of assizes of Paris.

"It is their story, and I was part of it. They are linked to me and I am linked to them," he added, his voice trembling.

"I ask you to forgive me, I know that hatred remains ... I ask you today to hate me in moderation".

Abdeslam told the trial that he was meant to detonate a suicide belt on the night of the attacks but changed his mind.

When asked by his defence lawyer if he regretted not carrying out his plan, he told the court "I don't regret it, I didn't kill those people and I'm not dead."

Abdeslam also apologised to three co-defendants who had helped him flee after the attacks.

Gérard Chemla, a lawyer for a hundred victims, said neither he nor his clients were "moved" by the defendant's testimony.

In this "constructed and polished speech," he "cried about himself and his friends, not about the victims", Chemla added.

In the worst attack on French soil since World War II, nine men targeted bars, restaurants, the Bataclan concert hall and the Stade de France stadium on 13 November 2015. All attackers either killed themselves or were shot dead by French police.

Abdeslam -- whose brother Brahim was one of the attackers -- faces life in prison if found guilty in the landmark trial. Six others are being tried in absentia, five of whom are believed to be dead.

The 32-year-old, who has admitted being a member of IS, said the attacks were "nothing personal", and also reiterated that he didn't hurt or kill "anyone".

A verdict in the case is not expected until late May.