Suspect of Paris Terror Attacks Extradited to FranceMay 3, 2016 in France
The lawyer for Paris attacks suspect Salah Abdeslam has confirmed that Abdeslam was been placed under formal investigation on terrorism and murder charges in France on 27 April after his extradition from Belgium, adding that the suspect has promised to talk to judges during his next hearing.
After an initial hour-long hearing, lawyer Frank Berton disclosed that “the investigation will determine to what degree he was involved in the acts…for which he had ben put under investigation.” He further stated that “he stayed silent today but said he would talk at a later stage,” adding that the next hearing has been set for 20 May. Berton noted that Abdeslam did not speak on Wednesday as he was tired after a “quite rough” extradition.
A Belgium-born Frenchman, Abdeslam is believed by investigators to be the sole survivor among a group of Islamist militants who killed 130 people in a spate of shootings and suicide bombings that were carried out in Paris on 13 November 2015. According to a statement released by the public prosecutor, Abdeslam was placed under investigation on charges of belonging to a terrorist organization, murder, kidnapping and holding weapons and explosives. The kidnap charges relate to the hours-long attack on the Bataclan concert hall, in which ninety people were killed. Investigators have disclosed that Abdeslam told them that he had arranged logistics for the multiple suicide bombings and shooting attacks in Paris and had planned to blow himself up at the Stade de France sports stadium before backing out at the last minute. His confession to investigators suggests that he may have been the 10th man referred to an Islamic State (IS) claim of responsibility for the multi-pronged attack on the stadium bars and the Bataclan concert hall. Police found an abandoned suicide vest in a rubbish bin in a Paris suburb following the attack, which stirred speculation that it may have belonged to Abdeslam, who escaped by car back to Belgium a few hours later.
Abdeslam is also suspected of having rented two cars that were used in order to transport the attackers to, and around, the French capital. Abdeslam’s elder brother, Brahim, with whom he used to run a bar in the Brussels district of Molenbeek, blew himself up in a suicide bomb attack on one of several Paris cafes targeted by a group of assailants armed with AK-47 rifles and suicide vests.
Abdeslam, 26, was Europe’s most wanted fugitive until he was captured in Brussels on 18 March after a four-month manhunt. Four days after his capture, other Islamist militants blew themselves up at Brussels international airport and on a metro train, killing 32 people. Abdeslam was taken by helicopter to Paris under armed guard and then driven to the capital city’s main law courts. French Justice Minister Jean-Jacques Urvoas has indicated that Abdeslam would be held in solitary confinement in a high-security prison in the Paris region, with his cell under CCTV surveillance.
Police in Belgium have arrested a number of Abdeslam’s associates, including Mohamed Abrini, who was wanted in connection with both the Paris and Brussels attacks.