Belgium charges 11th person over Paris attacks

French Republican guards at a ceremony on Jan 10, 2015, to pay tribute to the victims of Paris' terrorist attacks.
French Republican guards at a ceremony on Jan 10, 2015, to pay tribute to the victims of Paris' terrorist attacks.PHOTO: EPA

BRUSSELS (AFP) – A Belgian judge on Friday charged an 11th person with terrorism-related offences over the deadly Paris attacks, two days after the suspect was arrested in a raid in Brussels.

The man identified as Zakaria J “has been charged with terrorist murders and participation in the activities of a terrorist group”, the prosecutor’s office said in a statement.

The Belgian national, who was arrested in the troubled immigrant neighbourhood of Molenbeek on Wednesday, is being kept in police custody, it added.

Zakaria, who was born in 1986, was arrested Wednesday, a day before police carrying out another raid in Molenbeek detained Mustafa E, a Moroccan national who was born in 1981.

Mustafa E was released on Thursday, the statement said.

No weapons or explosives were found in the raids in Molenbeek, an area dubbed a hotbed of militants which has seen a string of raids since the Nov 13 Paris attacks.

French President Francois Hollande has said that the Paris attacks were planned in Syria but prepared and organised in Belgium. The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) group has claimed responsibility for the attacks.

Last week, Belgium said it had identified three safe houses used by key suspects including presumed ringleader Abdelhamid Abaaoud, a Molenbeek resident who was killed in a French police raid days after the Paris attacks.

The premises include a flat in Charleroi, a town south of the capital Brussels where a major airport is located, a house in the rural village of Auvelais near the French border, and a flat in Brussels.

Four suspects remain at large, including Salah Abdeslam who allegedly drove suicide bombers to the French national stadium outside Paris, as well as Mohamed Abrini, suspected of having helped scout out the attack sites. Both are from Molenbeek.