Paris attacks suspect to oppose extradition to France, charged with 'terrorist murder'

French President Francois Hollande said shortly after Abdeslam's arrest yesterday that he wanted to see him transferred to France.

AFP| Last Updated: Mar 20, 2016, 00:40 AM IST

Brussels: Key Paris attacks suspect Salah Abdeslam will fight his extradition to France from Belgium where he was formally charged on Saturday with "terrorist murder" after his dramatic capture in central Brussels.

French President Francois Hollande said shortly after Abdeslam's arrest yesterday that he wanted to see him transferred to France as quickly as possible to face prosecution for the deadly attacks claimed by the Islamic State group.

"I can already tell you that we will oppose his extradition," Abdeslam's lawyer Sven Mary told reporters at federal police headquarters in Brussels.

Legal experts said this could delay but not prevent his handover to the French authorities on a European Arrest Warrant which the European Union introduced specifically to speed up extradition cases.

An investigating judge formally charged Abdeslam with "participation in terrorist murder and participation in the activities of a terrorist organisation," a prosecutors statement said.

Abdeslam's arrest in the gritty Molenbeek neighbourhood was hailed by European and US leaders, while French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said it dealt a "major blow" to IS jihadists operating in Europe.

The 26-year-old Abdeslam, who had been on the run for four months, and an alleged accomplice who was captured with him were initially taken to a Brussels hospital for treatment for gunshot injuries sustained in the police raid.

In Paris, Hollande met today with key cabinet ministers and security officials to discuss the next steps in the probe into the November 13 attacks that killed 130 people and wounded hundreds more.

"The operations of the past week have enabled us to incapacitate several individuals who are clearly extremely dangerous and totally determined," Cazeneuve said after the meeting.

The aim was now "to review operations that are under way and the fight against terrorist groups in France and Europe," a member of Hollande's entourage said.

Hollande, who was in Brussels for an EU summit when the raid took place, described Abdeslam as "directly linked to the preparation, the organisation and, unfortunately, the perpetration of these attacks".

Abdeslam's capture was hailed by the Belgian press as restoring the country's honour, tarnished by perceived intelligence and police blunders before and after the attacks, which appear increasingly to have been planned and coordinated in Brussels.

Former small-time criminal Abdeslam is believed to be the last surviving member of the 10-man jihadist team that carried out the attacks on the Bataclan concert venue, restaurants, bars and the Stade de France stadium.