Belgium's prosecutors say Paris attacks suspect Salah Abdeslam has been handed over to France

Paris attacks suspect Salah Abdeslam was handed over to the French authorities on Wednesday (April 27), according to a statement from federal prosecutors in Belgium.
Paris attacks suspect Salah Abdeslam was handed over to the French authorities on Wednesday (April 27), according to a statement from federal prosecutors in Belgium.PHOTO: AFP

BRUSSELS (AFP/REUTERS) - Top Paris attacks suspect Salah Abdeslam was handed over to the French authorities on Wednesday (April 27), federal prosecutors in Belgium said in a statement.

"Within the framework of the Paris attacks of the 13th of November 2015, Salah Abdeslam has been surrendered to the French authorities this morning," a statement in English said.

"No further information will be given concerning the exact time or the circumstances of his transfer," it said.

Abdeslam, suspected of playing a major part in the Paris attacks which killed 130 people, will appear before French magistrates on Wednesday with a view to being placed under formal investigation, the French public prosecutor said.

The prosecutor will request that he be held in custody, according to a statement. The suspect arrived in France at 7.05am GMT, according to the prosecutor, who said Abdeslam was formally placed under arrest after arriving on French soil.

"He will be presented to judges during the day with a view to being charged. The prosecution will request his placement in temporary detention," read a statement.

Sources close to the investigation said Abdeslam had been flown into France under tight security.

He will be held in isolation in a Paris-area prison, French Justice Minister Jean-Jacques Urvoas said, and will be monitored by "hardened guards trained in the detention of persons believed to be dangerous", he told reporters.

Abdeslam is expected to be charged later on Wednesday.

Abdeslam has already hired a French lawyer, Mr Frank Berton, who told the regional newspaper Voix du Nord that his client was "anxious to explain himself" in France.

Abdeslam, 26, was arrested in Brussels on March 18 after four months on the run as Europe's most wanted man.

He is believed to have played a key logistical role in the Paris attacks, renting three cars and driving three suicide bombers to the national stadium.

After his arrest in Brussels, he said he had changed his mind about blowing himself up, while his brother Brahim went ahead with his suicide mission.

He has refused to answer questions since the day after his arrest.

Abdeslam, a French national of Moroccan origin who grew up in Belgium, is believed to be the last surviving member of the terror squad.

Belgian police have also tried to question him over his links to three suicide bombers who struck in Brussels airport and its metro on March 22, killing 32 people and injuring hundreds more.