France: Abdeslam abandoned plans to be Paris suicide bomber
Mar. 19, 2016
PARIS (AP) — The Latest on the arrest of a key suspect in the Paris attacks (all times local):
The Paris prosecutor says Salah Abdeslam, the top suspect in last year's deadly Paris attacks, had planned to be a suicide bomber at France's main stadium but backed out at the last minute.
Abdeslam was arrested Friday in a police raid in Brussels and questioned Saturday by Belgian authorities. Paris Prosecutor Francois Molins told reporters in Paris that Abdeslam told Belgian investigators that he abandoned his suicide vest the night of Nov. 13 after he drove other attackers to Paris for the attacks.
Molins did not say whether Abdeslam explained his reasoning for abandoning the attack. In all, 130 people were killed at several venues around Paris on that night.
The French Justice Ministry says a new European arrest warrant has been issued against Salah Abdeslam to speed extradition.
In a statement Saturday, the ministry gave Belgian authorities a maximum deadline of two months (or three if he appeals) to move Abdeslam to French soil.
A first arrest warrant was initially handed out to the French national following November's deadly attacks, but this new warrant incorporates new charges that came from the four-month-old investigation into the attacks. A European arrest warrant is effectively an extradition request.
Belgian authorities have officially charged Paris suspect Salah Abdeslam and another man who was using two aliases "with participation in terrorist murder" and in the activities of a terrorist organization.
Three other suspects were also picked up during Friday's police raid in Brussels that finally nabbed Abdeslam after his four-month fugitive run following the Nov. 13 attacks that left 130 people dead in Paris. The prosecutor's office also charged one of them with "participation in the activities of a terrorist organization and the hiding of criminals."
Two others who had been implicated in sheltering Abdeslam were released Saturday by police, even though one of them was charged with hiding criminals.
The lawyer for Paris attacks suspect Salah Abdeslam says his client will fight efforts to extradite him to France.
Lawyer Sven Mary says "we will refuse the extradition." The lawyer spoke to journalists after he and Abdeslam met Saturday with a Belgian investigating magistrate who will decide whether to issue a formal arrest warrant against Abdeslam.
Belgian prosecutors said earlier they are confident the suspect will be extradited to France.
Salah Abdeslam, the top suspect in last year's deadly Paris attacks, was discharged from a hospital in Brussels after being wounded while being captured Friday by police.
Interpol is calling on countries to be vigilant at their borders, saying accomplices of Salah Abdeslam may try to flee after his capture.
In a statement Saturday, the international police agency recommended closer checks at frontiers, especially for stolen passports. Many of the Nov. 13 attackers and accomplices traveled on falsified or stolen documents.
One of the Syrian passports used by a suicide bomber at the French national stadium had been listed by Interpol as among a batch of stolen blank passports.
Belgian and French officials say they believe other accomplices could still be at large.
Salah Abdeslam, the top suspect in last year's deadly Paris attacks, and a suspected accomplice have been discharged from a hospital in Brussels and will now face official questioning and a fast-track extradition effort.
Abdeslam and his companion were injured when they were captured by police. Yvan Mayeur, the Brussels mayor, announced on Twitter Saturday morning that "the two presumed terrorists" had been discharged from CHU St. Pierre hospital.
French President Francois Hollande is holding an emergency security meeting after Belgian authorities detained the top suspect in last year's deadly Paris attacks.
He is meeting in the Elysee palace Saturday with top security officials, military chief, Prime minister and ministers of Foreign Affairs, Defense, Interior and Justice.
Hollande hailed Friday's arrest of Salah Abdeslam, who is suspected of driving attackers and other direct participation in the attacks and evaded police for four months.
Speaking in Brussels hours after the police operation, he warned that "more arrests will come." He said authorities must continue hunting all those who organized or facilitated the attack.
France remains under a state of emergency after the Nov. 13 attacks on a rock concert, cafes and a stadium, which claimed 130 victims
The top suspect in last year's deadly Paris attacks, captured in Belgium after four months on the run, will now face questioning by investigators and a fast-track effort to extradite him to France.
Salah Abdeslam, a French national, is subject to a European arrest warrant issued by France. He was seized Friday in the Brussels neighborhood of Molenbeek and hospitalized after being shot in the leg.