The man who opened fire in 2015 in a Thalys between Amsterdam and Paris will be in court in France from Monday. In addition to the Moroccan main suspect, three alleged accomplices are being tried.
‘Americans prevented mass murder’
One of the witnesses in the case is 90-year-old American filmmaker Clint Eastwood, who made a film about the events on the train.
Main suspect Ayoub El Khazzani stepped out of a toilet on the high-speed train heavily armed on August 21, 2015. Passenger Mark Moogalian grabbed his AK-47 rifle, after which El Khazzani began firing a pistol. He injured Moogalian and was subsequently seized and disarmed by Americans who were backpacking.
31-year-old El Khazzani confirmed his identity in court on Monday and said he previously worked in the pastry industry. He is suspected of attempted murder with terrorist motives.
The main suspect does not deny that he intended to commit an attack, but insists that he changed his mind at the last minute. It would have been too late by then to avoid a confrontation with passengers.
In addition to El Khazzani and his co-defendants, victim Moogalian and his wife were also present on the first day of trial.
Spencer Stone, Alek Skarlatos and Anthony Sadler, the Americans who intervened at the time, are also expected later this week. They prevented a mass murder, according to their lawyer. Counsel said the shooter had enough ammunition to kill three hundred people.
The Americans and Moogalian played themselves in The 15:17 to Paris, Eastwood’s film about the confrontation on the train. It may be used as a reconstruction.