Paris, Brussels attacks suspects switch Belgian prisons

18th April 2016, Comments 0 comments

Paris attacks suspect Salah Abdeslam and alleged accomplice Mohamed Abrini, who is also charged over the Brussels attacks, were moved to different jails in Belgium on Monday, prison officials said.

Abdeslam, arrested in Brussels on March 18 following a four-month manhunt, "is now in Beveren in a high-security cell" after he was transferred from a prison in Bruges, prison services spokeswoman Kathleen Van De Vijver told AFP.

Beveren is about 100 kilometres (60 miles) further east from Bruges in northern Belgium.

Abrini, arrested 10 days ago in Brussels in connection with both the Paris and Brussels attacks, was moved to "the high security section in Bruges" from a jail in the Forest district of Brussels, the spokeswoman said.

Both transfers "are part of our dispersion plan," she said without elaborating.

Abrini, 31, has confessed to being "the man in the hat" caught on video with suicide bombers at Brussels airport on March 22. The airport attack and bombing an hour later at a metro station near EU headquarters killed 32 people.

Abrini was also linked to the November 13 Paris massacre after being caught on video at a motorway gas station with Abdeslam, who is awaiting extradition from Belgium to France.

However, the Belgian authorities want to question Abdeslam about a shootout in Forest that led to his arrest days afterwards in the capital's troubled Molenbeek district.

Abrini, who grew up with Abdeslam in Molenbeek, was charged with "participation in the activities of a terrorist group, terrorist murders and attempts to commit terrorist murders".

Abdeslam has also been charged with "terrorist murder" and being part of a terrorist group in connection with the shooting spree and suicide bomb attacks that killed 130 people in Paris.

Belgian investigators say the same cell carried out the attacks in both cities.

The Belgian parliament's commission of inquiry into the attacks said it will visit Maalbeek metro station and Brussels airport on Friday, one month to the day after the attacks in the Belgian capital.

The committee is tasked with shedding light on the Brussels attacks by the end of the year, as well as the impact on French-Belgian relations of the Paris carnage.

The committee is also to report on the Jewish Museum gun attack in Brussels which left four people dead in May 2014, a gunman's botched attack last August on a high-speed train from Amsterdam to Paris via Brussels, as well as on the dismantling of a jihadist cell in the Belgian city of Verviers in January 2015.

© 2016 AFP

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