France seeks transfer of Paris attacks suspects from Belgium

AFP , Thursday 19 May 2016

Salah Abdeslam, centre, is arrested by police and bundled into a police vehicle during a raid in the Molenbeek neighborhood of Brussels, Belgium March 18, 2016 (Photo: AP)

France has requested the extradition of four suspects charged in Belgium over the November 13 attacks in Paris, including three accused of helping prime suspect Salah Abdeslam flee after the carnage, inquiry sources said Thursday.

The four suspects include Mohamed Amri and Hamza Attou, who were seen on CCTV driving Abdeslam to Brussels just hours after the Paris assaults. The third man is named as Ali Oulkadi, who dropped Abdeslam off at a Brussels address the day after the attacks, the sources told AFP.

The fourth man, Mohamed Bakkali, is thought to have played a logistical role in the jihadist cell, notably renting a BMW seen near three safe houses where the Paris attacks were prepared.

All four men are subject to European arrest warrants issued in late April, setting the stage for the extradition procedure.

"Considering the close cooperation between France and Belgium in this inquiry, we are hopeful that they will be transferred fairly soon," said lawyer Olivier Morice, who represents more than two dozen victims and families in the case.

Amri, 27, and Attou, 21, were arrested in the notorious Molenbeek district of Brussels the day after the Paris attacks. Attou has since told investigators that Abdeslam claimed his explosives vest failed to detonate during the coordinated gun and suicide bomb attacks, which killed 130 people.

Oulkadi, 31, was seen driving in Brussels with Abdeslam on November 14. He was a close friend of Abdeslam's brother Brahim, one of the Paris suicide bombers.

Abdeslam, 26, the sole surviving suspect in the Paris attacks, was arrested in Brussels on March 18 after four months on the run as Europe's most wanted man.

He is now in France awaiting trial over his alleged role in the killings and is to be questioned by French investigators for the first time on Friday.

He has told investigators he was in Paris on the night of November 13, and was supposed to blow himself up but changed his mind.

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