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Paris terror suspect 'backed out of stadium suicide bombing'

Published 19/03/2016

French president Francois Hollande said he was sure the Belgian authorities would respond to the extradition request as quickly and as favourably as possible (AP)
French president Francois Hollande said he was sure the Belgian authorities would respond to the extradition request as quickly and as favourably as possible (AP)

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, according to prosecutors.

Salah Abdeslam was arrested on Friday in a police raid in Brussels and questioned on Saturday by Belgian authorities.

Paris prosecutor Francois Molins said Abdeslam told Belgian investigators he abandoned his suicide vest on November 13 after he drove other attackers to Paris for the attacks.

Mr Molins did not say whether Abdeslam explained his reasoning for abandoning the attack. In all, 130 people were killed at several venues around Paris.

Belgian authorities have officially charged Abdeslam and another man who was using two aliases "with participation in terrorist murder" and in the activities of a terrorist organisation.

The French Justice Ministry says a new European arrest warrant has been issued against Abdeslam to speed extradition.

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.

Three other suspects were also picked up during Friday's police raid in Brussels that finally nabbed Abdeslam after his four-month fugitive run.

The prosecutor's office also charged one of them with "participation in the activities of a terrorist organisation and the hiding of criminals".

Two others who had been implicated in sheltering Abdeslam were released on Saturday by police, even though one of them was charged with hiding criminals.

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From Belfast Telegraph