Paris Attacks: Salah Abdeslam Extradited to France
Paris attacks suspect Salah Abdeslam has been extradited from Belgium to face trial in France.
Salah Abdeslam, 26, was wounded and arrested in a dramatic raid in Brussels on March 18 after four months on the run.
The French national was born in Brussels and lived there before the Paris attacks.
Salah Abdeslam would be held in solitary confinement in a maximum-security prison in the Paris area, said Justice Minister Jean-Jacques Urvoas.
The co-ordinated attacks carried out by so-called Islamic State in Paris on November 13, 2015, claimed 130 lives and left dozens more severely wounded.
Belgium’s federal prosecutor said Salah Abdeslam had been “surrendered to the French authorities this morning [in execution of the European Arrest Warrant issued by France on March 19, 2016]”. He was then formally placed under arrest.
Although Salah Abdeslam was initially held at a prison in Bruges, he had most recently been in custody at a high-security jail at Beveren, near Antwerp.
He is charged in France with participation in terrorist murder and the activities of a terrorist organization.
He was also indicted by Belgian authorities last week over a shoot-out in the Forest area of Brussels in which four police were wounded, three days before he was arrested.
Earlier, French criminal lawyer Frank Berton told French media that he would be taking on Salah Abdeslam’s defence in France following a two-and-a-half-hour meeting between the two last Friday at Beveren.
Frank Berton BFMTV he hoped the man would be judged “for what he has done and not what he has not done… not for what he represents because he is the last survivor”. Most of the Paris attackers are now dead.
He described Salah Abdeslam as “falling apart because of the drama that unfolded in France” and said he wanted to explain his actions.
Frank Berton said he was aware of the risks in representing his client, but insisted “he has the right to a fair trial”.
Salah Abdeslam’s Belgian lawyer, Sven Mary, has spoken of the dangers he faced in representing him – telling France’s Liberation website that he was threatened, assaulted physically and verbally in his office, and that on occasion police had escorted his daughters to school.