Men accused of funding Brussels suspect Mohammed Abrini to face trial

Court sketch of Mohammed Ali Ahmed, Zakaria Boufassil and Soumaya Boufassil Image copyright Julia Quenzler
Image caption Mohammed Ali Ahmed (L), Zakaria Boufassil and Soumaya Boufassil at an earlier court appearance

Two men accused of giving money to a suspect in the Brussels and Paris terrorist attacks when he visited England are to stand trial in November.

Mohammed Ali Ahmed and Zakaria Boufassil, both 26, are accused of giving £3,000 to Mohamed Abrini.

They face one count of arranging the availability of money for use in terrorism on or before 7 July 2015.

Mr Ahmed is also charged with the preparation of terrorist acts, with a third defendant, Soumaya Boufassil, 29.

The two men are accused of meeting Mr Abrini - referred to by Belgian police as "the man in the hat" - at Small Heath Park in Birmingham last year between 9 and 16 July, when it is alleged they gave him the money.

Mr Ahmed and Ms Boufassil are charged with the preparation of terrorist acts between 1 January 2015 and 8 April 2016.

Mr Ahmed is a British national, while both Mr Boufassil and his sister, Ms Boufassil, are Belgian-Moroccans. They have all been living in Birmingham and were arrested on 14 and 15 April.

Image copyright EPA
Image caption The images of a man in a hat at Brussels airport were distributed after attacks on the city in March

The two men appeared at the Old Bailey on Thursday via video link from Wandsworth prison.

Ms Boufassil was excused from attending the hearing.

The defendants were remanded in custody and ordered to appear at the Old Bailey on 4 October for a plea and case management hearing.

Mr Abrini, who is in custody over the attack at Brussels airport in March which killed 16 people, is also a suspect in last year's attacks on Paris which killed 130.