Paris attack suspect’s lawyer describes Abdeslam as ‘moron with intelligence of an ashtray’

Salah Abdeslam. © Police Nationale
As the main Paris attacks suspect Salah Abdeslam appeared in a French court for the first time since his extradition, his Belgian lawyer described his former client as a “little moron” and more of a follower than a leader, with the “intelligence of an ashtray.”

Refusing to address charges formally brought against him by the French court on Wednesday, Abdeslam claimed to be tired from the “quite rough” extradition, when elite French military police flew him to France. The 26-year-old Abdeslam has been scheduled to appear in court on May 20.

The sole survivor of the Islamist cell which killed 130 people in a series of shootings and suicide bombings in Paris on Nov. 13 stands accused of belonging to a terrorist organization, murder, kidnapping and possessing weapons and explosives.

As Abdeslam was handed over to the French authorities and a French defense team, his Belgian lawyer, Sven Mary, who has spoken to the suspect on eight occasions following his capture in Brussels on March 18 after a four-month manhunt, said that the Paris suspect would most likely cooperate with the investigation.

“I think Salah Abdeslam is of capital importance to this investigation. I would even say he is worth gold. He cooperates, he communicates,” Mary said in an interview with the Liberation newspaper.

Assessing his interaction with the jihadist, the Belgian attorney described his departing client as being a “little moron from Molenbeek, more a follower than a leader. He has the intelligence of an empty ashtray.”

Mary said that Abdeslam’s perception of reality was an example of the “GTA generation,”“who thinks he lives in a video game.”

According to the lawyer, the suspect was radicalized over the internet, as the jihadist had no clue about the Koran and the radical interpretation of the holy book’s verses.

“I asked him if he had read the Koran, and he replied that he had looked up what it meant on the Internet,” Mary said. “A year and a half ago he was clubbing in Amsterdam. The only explanation I can find is that it was internet propaganda that gave the impression that Muslims were unfairly treated.”

Due to the severity of Abdeslam’s crime, Mary believes that the trial should actually take place in the international criminal court.

“These people committed war crimes,” he told Liberation.

But for now, the suspect's fate lies in the hands of his French lawyer Frank Berton while the 26-year-old is being held in isolation at the Fleury-Merogis prison complex outside of Paris.

“He told me naturally that he has things to say and he will say them. He wants to talk,” Berton told BFMTV. “What counts and what matters for us as his lawyers is simply that he gets a fair trial, that he is sentenced for things he did and not things that he didn't do. That’s vital because he is the sole survivor.”

So far Abdeslam has confessed to his defense team that he had arranged logistics for the November 13 attacks in Paris and was planning to blow himself up at the stadium before having a change of heart at the last minute.