International Briefs

Trial for Paris attack suspect Abdeslam hints at deadly plan

PARIS (AP) — The weapons stockpile in his hideout and the Islamic State fighter covering his getaway with a spray of gunfire were signs of a deadly plot to come, a Belgian prosecutor argued Thursday in the trial of the man who was once Europe’s most wanted fugitive.

Salah Abdeslam refused to attend the final day of his trial in Brussels for a March 15, 2016, shootout with police that ultimately led to his capture.

He left his prison cell in France on Monday — the first public glimpse of the man linked to plots in Paris and Brussels that killed a total of 162 people. But Abdeslam refused to stand for the judge and told her he wouldn’t answer her questions.

“My silence is my defense,” he said Monday, flanked by masked officers in a heavily guarded courtroom.

On Thursday, the lawyer who once quit defending him in frustration pleaded his case once more.

The getaway shooting that left three police officers injured, Sven Mary argued, “was a spontaneous act, not a terrorist act,” and that the time to try the Nov. 13, 2015, attacks was in 2020 in Paris, not now in Brussels.

Abdeslam and Sofiane Ayari, a former IS fighter, are charged with attempted murder in a terrorist context and face 20 years in prison. Their lawyers said only the jihadi they left behind to die in the apartment fired on officers as they ran across the rooftops, broke into an apartment and escaped into the Brussels streets.

“We know that they were stockpiling weapons in preparation for terrorist attacks. So if they fled it was only because they had other plans,” Kathleen Grosjean, the prosecutor, said according to the public broadcaster RTBF.

Abdeslam and Ayari were captured on March 18, 2016, in Abdeslam’s home neighborhood of Molenbeek. Grainy video from that day showed him limping into a waiting police car, a gunshot wound to the leg.

Four days later, IS suicide bombers struck the Brussels metro and airport.

The trial in Brussels hinged on who fired a second weapon involved in the shootout: Ayari, Abdeslam or the dead jihadi, Mohamed Belkaid.

Mary said Abdeslam wasn’t responsible for either opening fire or for inciting the shooting.

“Nothing allows us to say that Salah Abdeslam provoked Belkaid into firing on the officers,” Mary said.

He also requested that the entire case be dismissed because court orders were written in French, and not in Dutch as required under Belgian law. Belgium is linguistically divided but Abdeslam is a native French speaker.

Toronto police: remains of 6 found in serial killer probe

TORONTO (AP) — Toronto police say they’ve recovered the remains of at least 6 people from a property connected to alleged serial killer Bruce McArthur.

Lead investigator Det. St. Hank Idsinga said Thursday all the remains were found in planters on the property. McArthur used it as storage in exchange for doing the landscaping.

McArthur was arrested Jan. 18 and charged with two counts of murder in connection with the disappearance of Andrew Kinsman and Selim Esen, two men last seen in the “Gay Village” district of Toronto. Not long after that, he was charged with the murders of three more men and police said they were on a wide search for other possible victims.

Idsinga says remains from Kinsman were found at the property.

Police expect to lay more charges.

Romanian study: Half-day old snow is safe to eat

BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) — How safe is it to eat snow? A Romanian university has published the results of just such a study.

The 2017 experiment showed it was safe to eat snow that was a half-day old, and safer to eat it in the colder months. But by two days old, the snow is not safe to eat, Istvan Mathe, a professor at the Sapientia Hungarian University of Transylvania, told The Associated Press.

Scientists collected snow from a park and from a roundabout in Miercurea Ciuc, central Romania, in January and February and placed it in hermetically-sealed sterile containers. They then tried to grow bacteria and mold in them.

The study took place in temperatures ranging from minus 1.1 degrees Celsius to minus 17.4 C (30 degrees to 0.7 degrees Fahrenheit) in the city, one of the coldest in Romania.