Brussels, Asharq Al-Awsat– The trial of 13 suspected members of the Moroccan Islamic Combatant Group resumed on Wednesday after it was suspended earlier this month because of language difficulties.
The men are accused of using forged documents and illegal residency in Belgium and involvement in the Madrid bombings on 11 March 2004 and the Casablanca blasts on 16 May 2003.
The police detained seven suspects currently held in Belgium in two separate operations in March 2004 in Maaseik on the border with the Netherlands and July 2004 during raids in Brussels and Antwerp. Three other suspects are jailed in Spain, one in Morocco and one is under arrest in Syria .
A spokeswoman for the federal government’s investigation bureau told Asharq al Awsat that Belgian laws state that a trail is to be conducted in the labguage understood by the defendants. In this case, as the majority of suspects spoke French, it was agreed this language would be used in court in the presence of a Dutch translator.
Commenting on the cooperation with Morocco regarding this case, the spokeswoman said, “Collaboration is very good as was evident when information on terrorist and criminal activities was shared” between the two sides.
“A Moroccan delegation visited Belgium and discussed with us the investigation and other related matters. We agreed on future steps to increase cooperation,” she said.
If found guilty, the men face between five and 10 years in prison. The trial is the first prosecution under Belgium”s new anti-terrorist law, which explicitly makes terrorism a crime.