The trial of 20 men accused of involvement in the 2015 Paris terror attacks got underway Wednesday—and it was soon disrupted by an outburst from the main suspect, Saleh Abdeslam. The Guardian reports that Abdeslam, believed to be the only survivor of the group that carried out the attacks in which 130 people died, jumped to his feet, ripped off his mask, and shouted at the court's president about being mistreated in prison. "We should be treated like human beings. We are not dogs," he said. At the back of the court, somebody said: "And us, we suffered 130 deaths, you bastard."
Six of the defendants are being tried in absentia. Of the 14 suspects in court, Abdeslam is the only one charged with murder. When the 31-year-old was asked to give his name, he said, "Firstly, I will say there is no God except Allah and Muhammad is his messenger." When asked his profession, he said, "I have given up all profession to become a soldier with Islamic State." The other 13 defendants gave only "brief, hesitant, confused" answers, with no ideological messages, France24 reports. The presiding judge also read out the names of 1,800 plaintiffs.
Abdeslam allegedly ditched his vehicle and a malfunctioning suicide belt on the night of the attacks, the AP reports. The other defendants face lesser terrorism charges, but most of them could also face life sentences. "Is Salah Abdeslam shaping up to be the spokesman for the group in the dock?" asks Hugh Schofield at the BBC. "Is his bravado because he is insecure in his jihadist credentials? Remember, he failed in his apparent mission to blow himself up." Schofield describes the first day of the nine-month trial as one of "periods of quiet punctuated by periods of high emotion." (Read more Paris terror attacks stories.)