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Paris attacks suspect stays silent to protest against 24-hour surveillance

AFP archive | The authorities are still not sure what precise role Abdeslam played in the November 13 attacks.

Salah Abdeslam, the only surviving suspect in last November's attack on Paris, refused to speak to a judge Thursday for a third time, in frustration at 24-hour video surveillance of his prison cell.

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Abdeslam's lawyer Frank Berton said the judge repeatedly asked questions to no avail on Thursday.

"He exercised his right to silence," Berton said, adding that Abdeslam was not obliged to explain his silence but that "obviously" it was linked to the constant surveillance.

"There's a hope that he will speak to the judges," Berton said. "But it won't be today."

Abdeslam kept silent at a hearing in May, and refused to attend a hearing in July. Berton argued that two round-the-clock video cameras in Abdeslam's cell in Fleury-Merogis prison could cause psychological damage, but France's top administrative authority struck down the lawyer's request to remove them. Judicial authorities argue the surveillance is needed to ensure he doesn't commit suicide.

Abdeslam, 26, initially said he wanted to explain his path to radicalization and his role in the November 13 attacks on the Bataclan concert hall, cafes and the national stadium in and around Paris. The other attackers died in suicide bombings or under police fire.

Abdeslam's precise role in the attacks has never been clear. The Paris prosecutor has said he was equipped as a suicide bomber that night, but abandoned his plans and fled.

Abdeslam evaded police for four months, but was arrested in March in the Brussels neighborhood where he grew up. He was later extradited to France and handed several preliminary terrorism charges.

His Brussels lawyer was present at Thursday's hearing in Paris.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)

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