BRUSSELS (AP) – Jaana Mettala was six months pregnant and on her way to work when the bomb exploded in the heart of Brussels’ European Union (EU) quarter.
She suffered severe burns, but Mettala and her baby survived – 32 other people did not.
It’s now more than six years since the deadliest peacetime attacks on Belgian soil. And Mettala yearns for closure as the trial of 10 men accused over the suicide bombings at Brussels airport and an underground metro station starts in earnest today.
“I hope that the trial ends with a fair result and we can put this behind us,” Mettala said. “Even if there are after-effects that we will keep forever.”
She is going to testify at the trial – which will be the biggest in Belgium’s judicial history with hundreds of plaintiffs. It is expected to last between six and nine months.
The 10 defendants face charges including murder, attempted murder and membership, or participation in the acts of a terrorist group, over the morning rush hour attacks at Belgium’s main airport and on the central commuter line on March, 22, 2016.
If convicted, some of them could face up to 30 years in prison.
Among the accused is Salah Abdeslam – the only survivor among the Islamic State extremists who in 2015 struck the Bataclan theatre in Paris, city cafes and France’s national stadium. He was sentenced to life in prison without parole over the atrocities in the French capital.
He will be joined in the dock by Mohamed Abrini, who walked away from Brussels’ Zaventem airport after his explosives failed to detonate.
Abrini has been sentenced to life in prison with no possibility of parole for 22 years.