Europe

Brussels suspect Abrini formally investigated over Paris attacks

abrini Image copyright AFP/Getty
Image caption Mohamed Abrini became known as the "man in the hat" after the Brussels bombings

Brussels airport attack suspect Mohamed Abrini has been placed under formal investigation in France over the 2015 Paris terror attacks, his lawyers say.

Mohamed Abrini, dubbed the "man in the hat" after being filmed with the bombers who attacked Brussels airport last March, was handed over to French authorities for a day so he could be charged.

He was arrested last April in Brussels.

The gun and bomb attacks in Paris on 13 November 2015 killed 130 people.

Who were the Paris attackers?

How the attacks on Paris unfolded

What we know about the Brussels attacks

Mohamed Abrini was spotted in a car with key Paris suspect Salah Abdeslam when it stopped at a petrol station in Ressons two days before the attacks on the French capital.

His fingerprints and DNA were found in two "safe houses" in Brussels, as well as in a car used during the Paris attacks.

Following his arrest, he also admitted picking up Salah Abdeslam after the attacks and driving him back to Belgium.

Who is Mohamed Abrini?

Image copyright AFP/Getty
Image caption Mohamed Abrini (C) drove with Salah Abdeslam (R) to Paris ahead of the attacks
  • A Belgian of Moroccan descent from the Brussels district of Molenbeek
  • Described as an old friend of fellow Paris suspect Salah Abdeslam
  • Known to police for theft and drug-related incidents
  • Younger brother died while fighting in Syria in 2014
  • Unlike Salah Abdeslam, Mohamed Abrini is not thought to have been in Paris during the 13 November attacks. But the discovery of his fingerprints and DNA led to suspicion that he was involved in assembling the explosives used

Mohamed Abrini was driven to Paris from Belgium in a heavily armed convoy so the case against him could be formally launched, BFMTV reported.

He was not asked any questions during his court appearance in front of six judges, his lawyer Emmanuel Pierrat said in a statement.

However, Mr Pierrat said Mohamed Abrini was in Belgium when the attacks in Paris were carried out on 13 November 2015.

Image copyright Belgian police
Image caption Mohamed Abrini was spotted driving the Renault Clio to Paris

He also said the fact that his client was being investigated in both France and Belgium over the Paris attacks could lead to legal complications.

Mohamed Abrini is also under investigation in Belgium over the bomb attack on Brussels Zaventem Airport last March, which along with an attack on a metro station in the city killed 32 people.

Both the Paris and Brussels attacks were claimed by the so-called Islamic State group.

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