France plans centres to deradicalise militants

In Brussels, the trial of alleged militants accused of links to the terror cell behind the Paris and Brussels attacks began yesterday.
In Brussels, the trial of alleged militants accused of links to the terror cell behind the Paris and Brussels attacks began yesterday.PHOTO: REUTERS

PARIS • France will create centres in each region of the country to deradicalise people or prevent them becoming involved in terrorist groups, the prime minister said yesterday as he laid out new anti-terror measures.

The plan, which will cost an additional €40 million (S$62 million) by 2018 on top of the current funding, aims to double existing efforts to try to help people already in militant networks or those likely to join such groups.

Mr Valls said the first deradicalisation centre could be set up by this summer.

The measures are a response to the deaths of 147 people in terror attacks in France last year.

The authorities consider nearly 10,000 people in France to be radicalised and capable of violent actions, according to Le Parisien newspaper.

Meanwhile, in the Belgian capital of Brussels yesterday, the trial began of seven alleged militants accused of links to the terror cell behind the Paris and Brussels attacks. The men were arrested after a deadly raid in the Belgian town of Verviers in January.

A further nine people who are still at large are being tried in their absence by the court in Brussels.

Police believe Abdelhamid Abaaoud, the suspected ringleader of November's Paris attacks, was giving orders to the Verviers cell by phone from Greece.

Abaaoud, who was killed in a shoot-out in Paris days after the attacks, also had close links to the cell behind the March 22 Brussels airport and metro attacks.

AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 10, 2016, with the headline 'France plans centres to deradicalise militants'. Print Edition | Subscribe