Terror suspect Salah Abdeslam extradited to France
Terror suspect Salah Abdeslam has been extradited from Belgium to France to face prosecution for his alleged role in the Paris attacks, authorities say.
The 26-year-old arrived on French territory early Wednesday, and was handed over to authorities, the Paris prosecutor’s office said. He was then taken to the Palais de Justice in central Paris to appear before the investigating magistrate, CNN’s French affiliate BFM-TV reported.
The Belgian-born French citizen will be detained under “maximum security conditions,” French Justice Minister Jean-Jacques Urvoas told reporters.
Abdeslam, the only survivor of the group of men accused of carrying out the Nov. 13 attacks in Paris, was Europe’s most wanted man before he was captured in Brussels following a shootout with Belgian authorities last month.
Samia Maktouf, a lawyer representing the families of 16 of the 130 victims of the attacks, said the extradition is “good news.”
“It is a first step to knowing the truth. Today, the families are looking to know what happened on Nov. 13, and even though we don’t trust Salah Abdeslam to tell the truth, we’re still hoping,” she said.
“It’s a kind of relief for them to know he’s here.”
Charges in Belgium too
Last week, Belgian authorities charged Abdeslam with attempted murder for his alleged role in another shootout with police in Brussels days before his capture.
Four police officers were wounded in the March 15 shootout in the Brussels suburb of Forest.
The fugitive was eventually captured three days later in Molenbeek, another district of the Belgian capital, in a gunfight during which he was shot in the leg.
It ended his four months on the run. Days later, a terror cell struck at the airport and a metro station in Brussels, killing 32 people.
Investigators say the same ISIS network carried out the Paris and Brussels attacks.
Role in Paris attacks
French investigators believe Abdeslam may have been the driver of the black Renault Clio that dropped off three suicide bombers near the Stade de France, one of the attack sites on Nov. 13.
They also think he wore a suicide belt that was later found on a Paris street after the attacks. Sweat found on the belt matched Abdeslam’s DNA, a source close to the investigation told CNN.
Police stopped Abdeslam at checkpoints after the Paris attacks but did not detain him, as he had not yet been identified as a suspect.
His brother Ibrahim was one of the suicide bombers who blew himself up at a cafe during the attacks.
Another of his brothers, Mohammed, subsequently told Belgian state broadcaster RTBF that he thought Abdeslam at the “last minute … decided to reconsider” carrying out a suicide attack in Paris — possibly accounting for the discarded belt.
ISIS claimed responsibility for both the Paris and Brussels attacks.