At the November 13 trial, the frustrating “revelations” of Mohamed Abrini

Mohamed Abrini, during the trial of the November 13 attacks before the special assize court in Paris, March 29, 2022.

Nearly seven months after the opening of the trial for the attacks of November 13, the hearing finally addresses the two huge question marks that have accompanied this case for six years. The main: Did Salah Abdeslam give up activating his explosive belt or was it defective? The person concerned must explain himself during his interrogation, Wednesday, March 30. Before that, Tuesday March 29, it was his childhood friend and neighbor from Molenbeek, in Brussels, who faced the special assize court in Paris: Mohamed Abrini, “the man in the hat”. On March 22, 2016, with a bob on his head, Abrini was strolling through Brussels airport alongside two men, like him, pushing a cart full of explosives. His two neighbors had activated their bomb. He had given up at the last moment and fled. Had he already given up, four months earlier, to participate in the Paris attacks? This is the second question mark.

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Throughout the investigation, the person concerned insisted that there was never any question of him taking part in it, and that if, on November 12, 2015, he had accompanied the members of the commandos to their hideouts in the Paris suburbs, before returning to Brussels in disaster on the night of the 12th to the 13th, it was simply to say goodbye to his friends. Tuesday, March 22, slightly stupefied, he had sketched out a new version: “I was scheduled for the 13th.” Without saying more, and promising to explain when the time comes.

“Drop the masks! »

The time has therefore come, on Tuesday, for the 101st day of hearings. Mohamed Abrini stands up. “You told us that you had revelations to make, we are listening to you”, begins President Jean-Louis Périès, inviting the accused to remove his mask if he wishes. “You are right Mr. President, lower the masks!, responds the latter by removing his. We all wear masks, and one day it becomes difficult to take them off without tearing your skin. »

The introduction, very “Abrinian”, was promising. But after five hours of abundant and disjointed talk, also very “Abrinian”, one of the most anticipated days of the trial has become one of the most frustrating. And it is not certain that the court was convinced by the scenario in which the defendant assigned himself the role of the suicide bomber chosen in spite of himself, ignoring all the details of attacks which he had, in his heart of hearts, renounced. from the start.

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According to Mohamed Abrini, things would therefore have happened as follows. At the beginning of September 2015, Abdelhamid Abaaoud, mastermind of the attacks, told him that he would participate, without giving details. “He said to me, ‘You’re going to be part of a project.’ I don’t even know it’s the Bataclan, it’s France. I don’t say yes, I don’t say no, I try to dodge. I cannot go to the affront with Abaaoud”, childhood friend to whom he feels indebted. But it is already clear to him that it will not be: “I can’t shoot people like that, I can’t attack unarmed people. »

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