Sven Mary
Sven Mary has defended a series of high profile criminalsGetty

Known as the "villain's lawyer", Sven Mary is one of Belgium's most notorious legal figures.

Assigned to defend Paris attacks suspect Salah Abdeslam after his arrest last week, Mary's previous clients include Fouad Belkacem, spokesman for banned Islamic extremist organisation Sharia4Belgium, and Michel Lelièvre, a member of the paedophile ring of serial killer Marc Dutroux.

Before becoming a lawyer, Mary played for the youth side of famed football club Anderlecht, but an injury ended his career. He has since applied his relentless competitive spirit in the courtroom. Mary claims that he is motivated by "fighting against arbitrariness and abuse of power," he told Belgian daily Le Soir after the Paris attacks in November, "And right now we have plenty of it."

He said as early as January that he would be prepared to defend Abdeslam, after being contacted by one of the suspect's associates when he was still on the run. He has refused to divulge any information on the associate, and Abdeslam's family claim they did not contact Mary.

Since Abdeslam's capture in a dramatic police raid on Friday (18 March), Mary has not tried to prove his client was not involved in the attacks, telling L'Express that if Abdeslam tried to protest his innocence "That would bore me and I wouldn't defend him." Instead, he has focussed on fighting France's extradition request. Belgium's agreements to such requests, he argues, are motivated by guilt, and are unjustified in view of the fact that the attacks were prepared by Belgians on Belgian soil.

He also said he would sue French prosecutor Francois Molins, after he claimed that Abdeslam initially planned to blow himself up in the Paris attacks, a breach, Mary claims of his client's judicial confidentiality.

Mary has his fair share of critics, who accuse him of defending the undefendable. However it is wrong to characterise Mary as devoid of principle, as he recently represented a high profile acid attack victim in court, and has stated he would never defend a member of an extreme right organisation.

With European law enforcement agencies under increasing pressure to find and punish those involved in recent terror attacks, Mary claims they are overstepping their authority. "Do you remember the live press conferences by the federal prosecutors in the days, and even nights, after the attacks?" he told Le Soir. "I was sickened by the way by the way they exploited fear just to gain more power."

And in light of Tuesday's Brussels attacks by alleged associates of Abdeslam, his job just got a lot tougher, with Abdeslam likely to come under pressure from authorities to reveal information on members of the cell still at large, and past and future terror plots.