Abdeslam charged over Paris attacks after extradition from Belgium

French authorities Wednesday charged Salah Abdeslam with terrorist murder for his suspected role in November's attacks in Paris, following his extradition from Belgium earlier that day.

A statement by the prosecution service said that the 26-year-old was formally taken into custody after appearing before a judge. French Justice Minister Jean-Jacques Urvoas said he is to be held in isolation in a high-security detention centre.

Abdeslam's French lawyer, Frank Berton, said his client, who arrived in France Wednesday morning following his extradition from Belgium, was being held in Fleury-Merogis prison south of Paris and would be formally questioned on May 20.

Abdeslam, who for months was the most wanted man in Europe after he escaped arrest after the Paris attacks, was detained by Belgian authorities on March 18.

He is believed to be the only surviving member of a group of terrorists who killed 130 people in a night of coordinated gun attacks and bombings at locations across Paris on November 13, 2015.

His brother, Brahim, was one of the men who blew themselves up that night, which marked one of the most deadly massacres France has seen on its soil in the post-war era. The terrorists targeted cafes, a football stadium and a concert hall.

According to a French state prosecutor, Salah Abdeslam had intended to blow himself up at the Stade de France football stadium, but then backed out.

The 26-year-old Frenchman was arrested in Brussels four days before deadly terrorist attacks on the Belgian capital's international airport and Maelbeek underground railway station.

Speaking to i-Tele broadcaster on Wednesday morning, Berton said that he found Abdeslam to be a "shattered" young man during a visit to his client in detention in Belgium.

The lawyer said Abdeslam told him that "he wants to participate in the judicial process. He has things to say. He wants to explain his path to radicalization; he wants to explain his participation in the act."

Belgian prosecutors agreed last month to the French extradition request for Abdeslam, but decided to question him first in relation to a shoot-out with police in a Brussels neighbourhood days before his arrest. He has been charged with attempted murder in relation to that incident.

Abdeslam has also been linked to several of the perpetrators in the Brussels terrorist attacks, but has not been charged in relation to those events.

Last update: Wed, 27/04/2016 - 20:22
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