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'Man in the hat' terror suspect charged

January 30, 2017

Mohamed Abrini has been formally charged with his alleged involvement in the 2015 Paris terror attacks that killed 130 people. His lawyers criticized the French court case as Abrini is already facing charges Belgium.


French prosecutors launched an official terrorism investigation against Mohamed Abrini on Monday. The prosecutor's office in Paris confirmed that Abrini was suspected of belonging to a terrorist organization and being complicit in the terror attacks in Paris on November 13, 2015, which left 130 people dead.

Belgian authorities "surrendered" the terror suspect to French authorities for a day so he could be charged by an investigating magistrate in the Palais de Justice in the French capital.

Investigators allege that Albrini was part of a Brussels-based jihadist cell affiliated with the Islamic State that planned both the Paris attacks and suicide bombings in Brussels on March 22, 2016, in which 32 people died.

The Belgian national of Moroccan origin was caught on video with prime suspect Salah Abdeslam two days before November 2015 terror acts at a gas station north of Paris. Abdeslam is suspected of driving one of the vehicles used in the attacks.

Abrini had been arrested in April 2016 by Belgian police and has since been in police custody. According to Belgian prosecutors, Abrini was also filmed fleeing the Brussels airport without detonating a bomb in his suitcase during the attacks on the Belgium capital. Before authorities could confirm his identity, he was dubbed the "man in the hat" because of a hat he was wearing in the security tapes.

In Belgium, Abrini has already been charged for both the Paris and the Brussels attacks.

Abrini's lawyers, Emmanuel Pierrat und Stanislas Eskenazi, criticized that the 32-year old was facing trial in two countries. "Can states, in this case France and Belgium, try someone twice for the same crime?", they asked in a statement.

mb/rc (AFP, AP, dpa)