Lawyer compares Paris attacks suspect Abdeslam to ‘empty ashtray’
Sven Mary, Belgian lawyer of Paris attacks suspect Salah Abdeslam, talks to the media outside the building of the Federal Police in Brussels, on Saturday. (AFP/Belga/Aurore Belot)
"He has the intelligence of an empty ashtray, he is abysmally vacuous."
That was the stinging character assassination of Salah Abdeslam, the man most-wanted over last November's Paris attacks, which left 130 people dead.
Remarkably, it was delivered by Abdeslam's lawyer in Belgium, Sven Mary, on the day his client was handed over to French authorities.
Mary made the comments in an exclusive interview with French newspaper Liberation, revealing his thoughts on Abdeslam and lifting the lid on the pressure that came with representing him.
Mary, continuing after his empty ashtray comment, said: "He [Abdeslam] is a perfect example of the Grand Theft Auto generation who believe they live in a video game. I asked him if he had read the Koran, which is what I did, and he told me that he had read his interpretation of it on the Internet. For simple minds, it is perfect, the 'net, it's the maximum they can understand."
Despite the interview, there has been no indication that Mary has yet severed links with Abdeslam.
But, with the suspect now in French hands, he will also be represented by Frank Berton, a high-profile French criminal lawyer.
Mary, 43, said he didn't care about his popularity levels, but that if he had known about the Belgian attacks, he would perhaps not have agreed to represent Abdeslam.
He added: "It is not easy to take on his defense, which brings me nothing but crap. I've been repeatedly assaulted, verbally and physically. Two types even waited for me in front of my office and blows were exchanged, but I can defend myself. On several occasions the police had to escort my daughters to school."
By Chris Harris