Paris attack suspect phoned Belgian prisoner: Source

The source said the prisoner was jailed for a common law crime.

AFP| Last Updated: Dec 09, 2015, 22:25 PM IST

Brussels: Fugitive Paris attack suspect Salah Abdeslam telephoned a man serving a prison term in a southern Belgian prison on the night of the massacre, a source close to the investigation said Wednesday.

Abdeslam, who is alleged to have driven three suicide bombers to the French national stadium on the evening of November 13, phoned the prisoner, a fellow resident of the troubled Brussels district of Molenbeek, the source told AFP on condition on anonymity.

The source said the prisoner, who was jailed for a common law crime, is not implicated in the gun and suicide bombing attacks that left 130 people dead across the French capital.

Philippe Leloup, the lawyer for the man in prison in Namur, said his client "formally denied having received the call from Abdeslam."

Belgian broadcaster RTBF reported earlier that Abdeslam had phoned the prisoner on the night of the attacks.

Abdeslam had visited the prisoner twice during his incarceration in the southern city of Namur, the last time in October, RTBF said.

Investigators also found in his cell a piece of paper on which was written the name of Abdeilah Chouaa, another native of Molenbeek, it said.

Chouaa was charged in connection with the Paris attacks following his arrest in Brussels on November 23.

The Belgian authorities say he is being held for having "taken part in the activities of a terrorist group and terrorist assassinations."

RTBF said Chouaa knew the Abdeslam family but was particularly close to Mohamed Abrini, a 30-year-old Moroccan Belgian.

Last month, Belgium issued an international arrest warrant for Abrini, who was filmed along with Abdeslam at a petrol station in Ressons, France, on the motorway to Paris, in a Renault Clio which was later used in the attacks.

RTBF said it was Chouaa who accompanied Abrini to Brussels airport in June while he was heading to Syria.

"It was also he who went to pick him up three weeks later, this time in Paris," the broadcaster said, adding that Abrini had returned from Syria via the United Kingdom.

Federal prosecutors declined to comment on the reports.

In all, Belgium has charged eight people who allegedly aided the perpetrators of the Paris attacks.