Dutch Paris Attack victim to attend terror suspect's trial in Brussels
Ferry Zandvliet from Rotterdam, who survived a terrorist attack during an Eagles of Death Metal concert in Bataclan in Paris two years ago, will be attending the trial against suspected terrorist Salah Abdeslam in Brussels on Monday. "I want to look that boy in the eyes", he said, according to newspaper AD.
The trial starting in Brussels on Monday will not handle the Paris Attacks. This trial revolves around a shooting in Vorst, Belgium on March 15th, 2016. A Belgian-French police team went to search a home on Driesstraat in Vorst when shots were fired at the police officers. Three cops were injured. A police sniper shot and killed Mohamed Belkaid, Sofien Ayari from Tunisia was arrested, but Salah Abdeslam managed to escape. He was arrested in Molenbeek three days later.
On March 22nd, 2016 there were multiple terrorist attacks in Brussels. The authorities believe that these attacks were accelerated due to the arrests after the Vorst shooting. The Belgian Public Prosecutor believes that Abdeslam was part of this same terrorist network.
Both Abdeslam and Ayari are standing trial today, charged with attempted murder in a terrorist context. They could face up to 40 years in prison.
Abdeslam is also suspected of involvement in the Paris Attacks, in which 130 people were killed in multiple attacks in the French city on November 13th, 2015. Abdeslam's bomb belt malfunctioned and wouldn't detonate, after which he went into hiding in Molenbeek. He is the only surviving terrorist of those attacks. So while the trial in Brussels is not about the Paris Attacks, many survivors of these attacks will be attending, according to AD.
That includes Zandvliet, who survived the attack on the Bataclan with three friends. He was face to face with a terrorist that night, and now wants to face Abdeslam too, he said to Belgian television program De Zevende Dag on Sunday. Abdeslam will be present at the trial. So far he's said almost nothing about the events in Paris and his flight thereafter. So Zandvliet doesn't have much hope for closure. "I do not believe that he will give answers that will be satisfactory." Still he feels he needs to be there, to help him process what happened. He can still remember every moment of the attack. "It is a kind of movie that is still projected in my mind. I can reproduce almost every scene."
Zandvliet previously also set up an online platform to bring victims of terrorist attacks together, for this same purpose. "We share information about what psychologists can help, but also about how we are doing. And sometimes we get something to eat together. Because talking to a psychologist works. But it is different to sit at the table with someone who also went through it", he said. He also visited the father of one of the perpetrators. "People find that courageous. But actually, he is also a victim, because he lost his child. And when I heard his story, I realized that it is different than you think: he is a citizen of the world, his son did well in his studies, and so on."