Belgium to extradite Paris suspect to France
Salah Abdeslam is the sole surviving suspect in the November attacks in Paris that killed 130 people
Belgian authorities approved the extradition of Paris attacks suspect Salah Abdeslam to France, as officials at the bomb-damaged Brussels airport said it was ready to reopen although flights would not resume immediately.
Abdeslam, the sole surviving suspect in the November attacks in Paris that killed 130 people, was arrested in Brussels on March 18 after four months on the run as Europe’s most wanted man.
Four days after he was arrested, the Belgian capital was struck by coordinated Islamic State group bombings at the airport and a metro station carried out by suicide attackers with links to Abdeslam and the Paris attacks cell.
Abdeslam’s lawyer said that his 26-year-old client had agreed to be transferred to France under a European arrest warrant, clearing the way for a fast-track extradition.
“What Salah Abdeslam wants to make known is that he wants to cooperate with the French authorities. These are the words he wants to make known,” lawyer Cedric Moisse told reporters in Brussels.
Abdeslam’s arrest was considered a rare success in Belgium’s anti-terror fight, although he was found within a short distance of his family home in the Molenbeek district of the capital. He has refused to talk since the Brussels bombings.
The transfer to France should happen “within 10 days”, said French justice minister Jean-Jacques Urvoas.
Belgian investigators will still be allowed to question Abdeslam in France.
He is believed to have acted as a logistics coordinator for the Paris attacks and has told investigators he was meant to carry out a suicide bombing at the Stade de France stadium but backed out.
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