Transfer of Paris attacks suspect Abdeslam to France 'will take weeks'

AFP , Thursday 7 Apr 2016

Belgian lawyer Sven Mary, who is representing Salah Abdeslam, the sole surviving suspect in the November 13 Paris attacks, leaves the council chamber in Brussels on April, 7 2016 (Photo: AFP)

Extraditing Paris attacks suspect Salah Abdeslam from Belgium to France is likely to take several weeks, as investigators question him about a shootout with police in Brussels last month, his lawyer said Thursday.

"He will be handed over to France in several weeks. He must first be heard in another case," lawyer Sven Mary told reporters, referring to a March 15 shootout in which Abdeslam is implicated.

Abdeslam is believed to be the sole survivor of the group which carried out coordinated suicide bomb and gun attacks in Paris in November that killed 130 people and were claimed by the Islamic State group (IS).

Abdeslam, a 26-year-old French national who grew up in Brussels, is thought to have fled from an apartment in the Forest district of Brussels when it was raided by police on March 15.

The raid triggered a shootout that killed terror suspect Mohamed Belkaid, an Algerian.

The prosecutor's office later said police had found Abdeslam's fingerprints in the apartment.

Abdeslam was eventually captured on March 18 in the Brussels neighbourhood of Molenbeek, around the corner from his family home, following a four-month manhunt.

He is being held in a high-security prison in the northern Belgian city of Bruges and must still be questioned in "the case concerning Forest where shots were fired on police officers," Mary told reporters outside a Brussels courthouse.

Mary said his client was not at this stage implicated in the March 22 suicide attacks on the airport and an underground train station in Brussels that killed 32 people.

"No hearing has been scheduled" over the Brussels bombings, he said.

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