Paris attacks suspect Salah Abdeslam "cooperating" with authorities but will fight extradition to France

Francesca Washtell
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Salah Abdeslam Arrested in a Raid in Brussels
Salah Abdeslam was caught during a police raid in Brussels on Friday evening (Source: Getty)

A prime suspect in the November Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, is "cooperating" with Belgian investigators but will fight extradition to France, his lawyer has said.

He has been charged with "participation in terrorist murder", prosecutors have said. Francois Hollande has demanded Abdeslam, a French national, be extradited to France.

Legal experts have said his challenge is unlikely to succeed, reported the New York Times, but would buy him time to prepare his defence.

Sven Mary, Abdeslam's lawyer, told reporters in Brussels that he admitted to being in Paris on November 13 when the attacks occurred during questioning on Saturday. Mary added that the suspect was bedridden after being shot in the leg during the raid which led to his arrest in Brussels yesterday.

The 26-year-old elder brother, Brahim Abdeslam, was one of the attackers in the coordinated gun and bomb attacks which killed 129 people and left more than 350 injured. Brahim detonated a suicide vest at the Comptoir Voltaire restaurant, severely injuring a waitress.

Belgian prosecutors also arrested a second man on Friday, Monir Ahmed Alaaj, was also on a wanted list for the Paris attacks. He has also been charged with "participation in terrorist murder".

Interpol, the international police agency, has advised its member states to ramp up security at border controls in the wake of Abdeslam's arrest, in case other fugitives attempt to flee.

"Whilst it is too soon to speculate in which direction the investigation will proceed, anyone linked to Abdeslam will be concerned that their location could be revealed and attempt to run to try and avoid detection," Jurgen Stock, Interpol secretary general, said.

"It is now vital that countries continue to cooperate and make thorough checks against the information available to them to avoid suspects slipping through the net."

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