Belgium approves extradition of a Paris attacks suspect to France

9th June 2016, Comments 0 comments

A Belgian court on Thursday approved the extradition to France of key Paris attacks suspect Mohamed Abrini but he will not be handed over for some time, federal prosecutors said.

They said the court in Brussels hearing a French extradition request for Abrini accepted the European arrest warrant issued against him which would allow for his transfer to France.

At the same time, the court remanded Abrini in jail for another month as he is also a suspect in the deadly Brussels airport and metro attacks on March 22, a statement said.

Abrini, 31, was arrested in Brussels shortly after those attacks, having been identified as the "man in the hat" seen in CCTV footage with the two bombers who blew themselves up at the airport.

"Currently, no additional information will be given regarding the further proceedings," the statement said.

A spokesman for the federal prosecutors' office added that "the carrying out of the (European arrest warrant) will certainly not be done immediately. The timeline is not at all fixed."

The spokesman said it was even possible that Abrini could stand trial in Belgium first before being handed over to France.

Alternatively, he could be sent to France to assist in the investigation into the November Paris attacks claimed by the Islamic State jihadi group that left 130 people dead.

Abrini could even be questioned in Belgium by French investigators, the spokesman added.

Another key suspect linked to both the Paris and Brussels killings, Salah Abdeslam, was extradited to France in April.

Abrini was linked to the Paris massacre after being caught on video at a motorway gas station on the way to the French capital with Abdeslam.

Abdeslam, a French national of Moroccan origin who grew up in Belgium, is believed to be the last surviving member of the terror squad that hit cafes, a concert hall and the national stadium in Paris on November 13.

© 2016 AFP

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