PARIS (Reuters) – Salah Abdeslam, believed to be the sole surviving member of the group of Islamist militants that killed 130 people in a night of gun and bomb attacks in Paris in 2015, apologised to the victims during his trial on Friday, French media reported.
Investigators believe Abdeslam was part of the squad that assaulted six restaurants and bars, the Bataclan concert hall and the national soccer stadium.
Among the 20 defendants, he is the only one directly accused of murder, attempted murder and hostage taking. He has denied the charges and is standing trial before a panel of judges.
“I want to present my condolences and my apologies to all the victims,” Abdeslam, 32, told the court in his final testimony, according to radio France Inter’s website.
It said Abdeslam cried as he addressed survivors of the attacks in the courtroom.
“I ask you to hate me with moderation…I ask you to forgive me. It will not heal you, but I know that good words can help, and if this helps even only one of the victims, it will be a victory for me,” France Inter quoted him as saying.
A French national of Moroccan origin, Abdeslam told the court in February he had backed out of detonating his explosive vest during the attack.
French media reported that during hearings this week he said he had decided not to do it “out of humanity”.
He has also said in earlier hearings that he did not know of the attack plot from the outset and that he bore no responsibility for the 130 deaths on the night of Nov. 13, 2015.
Prosecutors allege that Abdeslam, a self-proclaimed Islamic State militant, made journeys across Europe in cars he hired to collect several of the would-be attackers who had returned from Syria.
(Reporting by GV De Clercq, Editing by Angus MacSwan)