Paris suspect Abdeslam charged over Brussels shootout: Lawyer

AFP , Thursday 21 Apr 2016

Belgian lawyer Sven Mary (L), 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)

Key Paris attacks suspect Salah Abdeslam has been charged over a deadly shootout with police in Brussels a week before the suicide bombings in the Belgian capital, his lawyer said Thursday.

"He has been charged with attempted murder either alone or jointly" over the gunbattle at an apartment in the Forest district of Brussels on March 15, lawyer Sven Mary told AFP.

An Algerian Islamist suspect was killed and four police officers were wounded in the shooutout, which led to Abdeslam's arrest three days later in the Molenbeek area of Brussels after a four-month European manhunt.

Abdeslam, 26, is due to be extradited to France in coming days over the November Paris attacks, in which he is believed to be the last surviving member of the terror squad that killed 130 people.

But Belgian police have also tried to question him over his links to the three suicide bombers who struck Brussels airport and metro on March 22, killing 32 people and injuring hundreds.

The Islamic State group has claimed both attacks.

Asked if Abdeslam admitted being present at the Forest shootout, Mary said: "We won't discuss that, I won't comment."

Abdeslam will appear before a Belgian court again on April 28 and his extradition to France will come "perhaps two days after his court appearance," Mary added.

Abdeslam and alleged Paris accomplice Mohamed Abrini, who has also charged over the Brussels attacks, were moved to different jails in Belgium last week.

Abrini, 31, has confessed to being "the man in the hat" caught on video with suicide bombers at Brussels airport.

Abrini was also linked to the November 13 Paris massacre after being caught on video at a motorway gas station with Abdeslam.

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