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Trial in Belgium begins against alleged accomplices of 2015 Paris attacks

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By Euronews  with AFP
The trial is being held in a special courtroom inside former NATO offices in Brussels.
The trial is being held in a special courtroom inside former NATO offices in Brussels.   -   Copyright  FRANÇOIS WALSCHAERTS / AFP, FILE

A group of 14 people have gone on trial in Belgium on suspicion of being accomplices in the 2015 Paris terror attacks.

The defendants are accused of providing shelter, money or transport to attackers who committed what was dubbed the worst atrocity on French soil since World War II.

Most of the suspects have also been charged with "participating in the activities of a terrorist group" and face up to five years in prison.

Nine of the 14 defendants were present in court on Tuesday, while three were absent. Two others are presumed to have died in Syria.

The trial is part of a broader investigation in France into the attacks in November 2015, which left 130 people dead.

Prosecutors say the defendants must have known that the attackers they helped had "terrorist" intentions and have demanded prison sentences of up to five years.

But lawyers for two of the suspects say they have "no terrorist profile" and "nothing to do with radical Islam".

One of those on trial is accused of hiding Salah Abdeslam at his mother's home in Molenbeek in March 2016, days before he was arrested.

Abedslam is believed to be the only surviving member of the terrorist cell that carried out the 2015 attacks and is currently on trial in Paris.

Another man on trial in Belgium is alleged to have lent his flat to one of the terrorists who detonated a bomb in the 2016 Brussels terror attacks. A separate trial for the bombings — which left 32 people dead — is due to begin later this year.

Meanwhile, the Belgian trial involving the alleged accomplices of the Paris attacks is set to run until 20 May.