Paris, Brussels terrorism suspect Abrini can be tried in France

Mohamed Abrini, one of the suspects in November's terrorist attacks in Paris and suicide bombings in Brussels this year, can be transferred to French custody, Belgian authorities agreed Thursday.

Abrini, long sought in connection with the November 2015 attacks in Paris which killed 130, was arrested in Belgium on April 8.

He later confessed to being the surviving bomber who fled Brussels airport on March 22, when more than 30 were killed in coordinated attacks at the airport and an underground station in the Belgian capital.

A European Arrest Warrant was issued at France's request last week for Abrini, as well as suspects identified as Hamza A, Mohammed A, Ali O and Mohamed Bakkali.

A pre-trial court agreed last week to hand over Hamza A, Mohammed A and Ali O to the French authorities, while the decisions on Abrini and Bakkali were put on hold.

On Thursday, the court decided that both men can be transferred to France, the state prosecution said in a statement, without giving further details.

Bakkali is not opposed to his transfer, but has stipulated that he can only be tried by the French authorities for the motifs they listed in the arrest warrant, the Belga news agency reported.

He also demanded that the entire dossier on Belgium's terrorism investigations - including apparent evidence stating his innocence - be transferred to France.

Abrini's case is more complicated, Belga wrote, since he has been placed under two arrest warrants in Belgium for his alleged role in both the Brussels and the Paris attacks. These would have to be separated before he can be handed over to France.

Belgium could also insist that Abrini later be returned to the country to be tried in connection with the Brussels terrorist attacks, Belga reported.

The 35-year-old suspect's exact role in the Paris killings is not known. He was seen with key suspect Salah Abdeslam in the preceding days, and his fingerprints and DNA were found in a car used in the attacks, as well as at terrorist hideouts in Brussels.

Abdeslam was also arrested in Brussels, days before the attacks in the Belgian capital, and is now in French custody.

Last update: Thu, 14/07/2016 - 10:24

More from Europe

EU starts "new era" of NATO cooperation amid uncertainty over Trump

NATO foreign ministers signed a deal on closer collaboration with the European Union on Tuesday, with the bloc's top...

Merkel re-elected party leader after toughening tone on refugees

Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative Christian Democrats (CDU) have edged to the right with plans for a tougher...

Greek court extradites some Turkish officers, others to stay

A court in Athens has agreed to a request from Turkey to extradite three military officers accused of plotting to...

Despite defeat, Austrian far-right aims for big vote take in 2017

This weekend's loss in the Austrian presidential election will not deter Austria's far-right Freedom Party (FPOe)...

Malta becomes first country to ban gay conversion therapy

Malta's human rights commission on Tuesday hailed parliament's decision to ban gay conversion therapy, the first...