Chairman Laurence Massart suspended the hearing on Wednesday afternoon until 9 am, after the defense lawyers refused to hear witnesses as long as they have not received the documents about the reasons of the nude fouilles. The seven arrested accused had today refused to come to the Justitia room.
Responses to the Commotion About Nude Fouilles
Nicolas Cohen, lawyer of Bilal El Makhoukhi, said that he cannot predict what mandate he will get from his client. “The witness (De Mesmaeker, ed.) Leaved, we don’t know when we are going to get the documents, we want to see the motivation and only then can we give answers,” he said.
“You let someone come who says there is information, but he must also be transferred,” said Stanislas Eskenazi, lawyer of Mohamed Abrini. “The motivation does not exist as long as we don’t have it. We must be consistent.”
Earlier, Delphine Paci, Advocate of Salah Abdeslam, had stated that it seems that everything is being done to bypass the decision of the judge in summary judge about the searches.
“We must get away from the Middle Ages and respect the accused. Otherwise we will get an empty box or accused. We do our work so that the accused are there, they are deprived of the opportunity to express themselves,” said she. “This is dramatic for Belgium, for the victims, for the accused and for the rule of law. And the police are above the decisions of justice.”
Federal Attorney Bernard Michel, on the other hand, laughed that the defense is making the problem even greater. “The Commissioner General did not lie under Ede, there will be answers, and yet the process is now being postponed for two hours.”
Aline Fery, Life4brussels lawyer, called on the defense to take responsibility. “We want to continue in a serene way, the problem (of the transfers, ed.) Is exhausted.”
Massart: “It can’t continue like this”
“The situation is serious and has to be unblocked, it can’t go any further,” said a desperate assize chairman Laurence Massart. “The continuation of the lawsuit is at stake,” Massart said.
Chairman Suspects Session After Defense Refuses to Hear Witnesses
Massart called on the Commissioner General of the Federal Police Marc De Mesmaeker on Wednesday afternoon to testify in connection with the nude foules. He indicated that the motivation of the searches exists and a document is signed every day, and that the documents from Tuesday and Wednesday/today will also be transferred to the accused.
Massart then suggested that you go to the order of the day, with the investigating judges and the investigators who intervened after the attack in Maalbeek.
Jonathan de Taye, who represents Ali El Haddad Asufi, then announced that he cannot represent his client in honor and conscience in these circumstances. He threatened to submit conclusions that would not continue the process. “I first want to know why the nude fouilles are still being performed,” he said.
Chairman Massart then said that the defense has the right to create an incident, but also asked not to block the process. In the end she turned out to have no other choice than to suspend the process until Thursday morning.
De Mesmaeker: “Make Risk Analysis Every Day”
De Mesmaeker explained to the chairwoman that a file will now be drawn up for every accused. “I ordered that the evaluation happens every day,” he said.
After a few questions from the chairwoman about this, De Mesmaeker said that the individual files will also be transferred to the lawyers of the accused.
De Mesmaeker also confirmed that risk analyzes were already being drawn up on Tuesday and Wednesday and that they will also be transferred. He also confirmed that there was a possibility that accused in the future would not have to undergo nude phouilles. “But that will depend on the evaluation of the day.”
It was striking that the chairman of the president repeatedly enabled the Commissioner General to abolish the nude phouilles if possible, without compromising safety. “It would be easier for everyone,” it sounded. The defense was not satisfied with the explanation and said she was worried that little would change in practice.
Stanislas Eskinazi, lawyer of accused Mohamed Abrini, was worried that the confidentiality of information would be made to motivate the searches. Delphine Paci, lawyer of Salah Abdeslam, said that it could not be denied that there is still “systematization” because the nude erres took place yesterday/Tuesday and today/Wednesday. “You have to call a cat a cat,” she said. Yesterday/Tuesday there was plenty of criticism of the Minister of Justice in the defense, but today Paci called the ministerial directive “excellent”. According to her, it is the police who refuse to apply the directive correctly. She repeated that the right to a fair trial would be violated and said that she would “not agree” if the president would decide to just continue the process.
The Mesmaeker replied to the prescription’s explicit question that the police will comply with the ministerial directive “as it should and she does with all ministerial guidelines”.
Ministerial Directive: Risk image must be “regularly updated”
The ministerial directive of 2 January 2023, which is addressed to the Commissioner-General of the Federal Police, first of all prescribes that an “integral and individualized risk image must be drawn up for every accused”, to make an estimate of the dangers and Risks during transport. “This risk image must be updated regularly to guarantee a permanent adjustment and quality control,” it sounds.
Based on that estimate, the director of the Protection Service (DAP) of the federal police decides on the measures to be taken. The principles of proportionality and subsidiarity are important. For example, the measures must be in proportion to the risks and it must be checked whether less radical but more efficient measures are possible.
Regarding the procedure for the transfer from prison, it sounds that it must always be “human and with respect for human rights, in accordance with the applicable legal figures and the deontology of the police”. It must be the intention to “avoid an attack on honor or a sense of humiliation among the accused”.
It is also important that the document prescribes that the police can carry out a more thorough fouille after the accused are removed from their cells, “as the analysis of the integral and individualized risk image”. That fouille must be done in a separate room in two phases, to prevent the accused from completely bare: first the upper body, then the lower body. The guideline does not mention anything about bending. The directive does, however, prescribe that the police services “are not allowed to touch the person at any time”. “The police services watch as much as possible about a serene performance of the Fouille.”
The directive still stipulates that handcuffs should be done when transferring from the prison to the Justitia building, a blindfold and a bulletproof vest. No music may be played in the vehicle.
De Mesmaeker Comes Witnesses, Federal Police Confirm
The Commissioner General of the Federal Police Marc De Mesmaeker will be witnessed on the transfer conditions of the prisoners on the process of the attacks of 22 March 2016. The federal police confirm that.
Assisen Chairman Laurence Massart had called up the Commissioner General because she wants to know whether the nude phouilles with knee bends still take place on a systematic basis and without individual motivation. Until now, the federal police had only confirmed to follow the ministerial directive, without, however, providing extra information. The process normally resumes at 1.30 pm with the testimony of the Mesmaeker.
Seven Detainees Refuse to Come to Court
Mohamed Abrini, Osama Krayem, Sofien Ayari, Bilal El Makhoukhi and Hervé Bayingana Muhirwa have refused to leave their cells. Salah Abdeslam and Ali El Haddad Asufi did come out of their cells and went to the transfer room. “They had to take off their outerwear, when they had to take off their undergarments they refused,” said Massart. The accused box is therefore empty on Wednesday.
According to Salah Abdeslam’s lawyer, Delphine Paci, the police would have told her client that “nothing has changed” and that the nude searches with knee bending will continue. “So there is a gap between the ministerial directive (on the prisoner transport of January 2, 2023, ed.) and practice.”
The accused again sued on Tuesday for the nude searches for their transfer from the cell to the Justitia building, after the judge ruled that systematic nude searches without personal motivation are prohibited.
The accused indicated on Tuesday that nothing has changed, the federal police were told that there is a new procedure. The brothers Smail and Ibrahim Farisi, who appear as free men, are the only accused who are in court on Wednesday.
President of the Assizes wants the Commissioner General of the Federal Police to testify about transport
President of Assizes Laurence Massart announced on Wednesday at the opening of the session day at the trial of the attacks of 22 March 2016 that he would call on the Commissioner General of the Federal Police to testify about the transfer conditions of the detainees. “I can only conclude that I have ordered to find out what is happening and have not received an answer,” said Massart.
The process went wrong yesterday / Tuesday on the transfer conditions of the detainees. The lawyers for the defense and accused Sofien Ayari had then indicated that the nude searches had taken place again, despite the ruling of the Brussels judge that systematic nude searches are a violation of the European Convention on Human Rights.
Massart then asked for an explanation from the federal police, but the person responsible for the protection directorate (DAP) of the federal police did not wish to testify with a bare face and turned out to have engaged a lawyer. On Wednesday it turned out that the police had only provided information about the ministerial directive that is now being followed. It was not clear whether nude searches with knee bending still take place on a systematic basis and without individual justification. That is why assizes chairman Massart decided to have the Commissioner General of the Federal Police testify. It is not yet clear when he will be available to testify.
This article is originally published on bruzz.be