Paris attacks suspect was plotting ′something′ in Brussels: Belgian foreign minister | News | DW | 20.03.2016
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Paris attacks suspect was plotting 'something' in Brussels: Belgian foreign minister

Belgium's foreign minister has said the prime surviving suspect in the Paris attacks may have been plotting attacks in Brussels. The 26-year-old is fighting extradition to France while security is high in Belgium.

Belgium's Foreign Minister Didier Reynders has suggested that suspected jihadist Salah Abdeslam had been plotting attacks in the Belgian capital.

"He was ready to restart something in Brussels," Reynders said at a panel discussion on Sunday. "And it may be the reality because we have found a lot of weapons, heavy weapons, in the first investigations and we have found a new network around him in Brussels."

Abdeslam is currently being held in a high security jail in Bruges on charges of "terrorist murder" for his role in the November 13 gun and suicide attacks in Paris, which killed 130 people.

The Belgian-born French citizen - who was arrested unarmed on Friday after being shot in the leg during a police raid in Brussels - reportedly told interrogators he had planned to blow himself up at the Stade de France stadium in Paris but had backed out at the last minute.

Lawyer Sven Mary pictured leaving the Federal police headquarters in Brussels, Saturday BELGA PHOTO LAURIE DIEFFEMBACQ

Defense lawyer Sven Mary said his client would fight extradition to France

A spirited defense

Meanwhile, his defense attorney has said that Abdeslam would fight extradition to France and had filed a legal complaint against prosecutors who had leaked his client's statements to investigators to the press.

"I don't understand why a prosecutor in Paris has to communicate at this stage on an investigation in Belgium," defense attorney Sven Mary told "Le Soir" newspaper on Sunday.

The attorney said investigators seemed more intent on prosecuting Abdeslam in the press than gleaning valuable intelligence from his client, who he said is willing to cooperate.

"Salah is of great importance to this investigation. I would even say that he is worth gold," Mary said. "He is cooperating, he is communicating, he is not insisting on his right to silence. I think it would be worthwhile now to give things a bit of time [...] for investigators to be able to talk to him."

This comes as Paris prosecutor Francois Molins told reporters Saturday that Abdeslam had played a "central role" in planning the November attacks, which targeted bars, restaurants and the Bataclan concert hall and were claimed by the self-styled "Islamic State" group.

Since Abdeslam's arrest Interpol has called on European countries to tighten border checks. The international police agency has said Abdeslam's accomplices may try to flee following his arrest.

Watch video 01:42

Paris suspect charged with 'terrorist murder'

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