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 Two Tunisians indicted in Paris for the Brussels attack

Hatim Kaghat Belga via Agence France-Presse Police officers stand guard as spectators leave the King Baudouin stadium in Brussels, last October 16.

The investigation into the attack perpetrated on October 16 in Brussels is progressing in Paris where two Tunisians, domiciled in the Paris region, were indicted Monday evening by a French judge, the investigations having to further clarify their links with the attacker.

These two men were indicted for criminal terrorist conspiracy and for complicity in assassination in relation to a terrorist enterprise, then placed in pre-trial detention, the National Anti-Terrorism Prosecutor's Office said on Tuesday ( PNAT) to AFP.

They are Tunisians, aged around forty and fifty, added sources close to the matter. According to the first elements of the investigation, “they do not know each other”, underlined a third source.

Telephone contacts and jacket

The attack in Brussels, using weapons of war, cost the lives of two Swedes – a man in his seventies and a man in his sixties – who had gone to support their national football team in Belgium.

The attack also left one injured, a 70-year-old Swede. The latter “is still being treated in hospital” in Belgium, the Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs told AFP on Tuesday.

On October 17, an investigation was opened in Paris following information “transmitted by the Belgian judicial authorities”, specified the PNAT.

Four people “likely to be linked to the perpetrator of the attack” were arrested Thursday in two departments in western France and in the Paris region. Two of the four police custody have been lifted.

The forty-year-old indicted, who “has lived for almost twenty years in France”, “formally contests” the accusations, assured his lawyer, contacted by the 'AFP.

“He has nothing to do with the attack,” said Mr. Souleymen Rakrouki. The attacker, Abdesalem Lassoued, a 45-year-old radicalized Tunisian, “is a friend he had known for a long time, from whom he had not seen any sign of radicalization. He could never have imagined such an act. »

The investigators are particularly interested in the exchanges that this man, domiciled and arrested in Val-de-Marne, “may have had some time before with the attacker” and “after” the attack , indicated one of the close sources.

According to Le Parisien, which revealed the existence of these contacts, they exchanged by voice messages during the weekend preceding the attack, in particular on the football match between the Belgian and Swedish selections. Another telephone contact, after the attack, would have lasted “one or two minutes”.

Mr. Rakrouki did not wish to speak on the merits of the case.

By Elsewhere, “a jacket that resembles” the one worn by the attacker was found during a search of the indicted fifty-year-old, two sources close to the case told AFP.

His lawyers, Pierre-Henri Baert and Louise Hennon, did not wish to comment, however emphasizing “the worrying state of health of their client” at the time of his presentation to the investigating judge on Monday.

The investigations “are continuing to clarify the links” of the two indicted with the attacker, underlined the PNAT.

Abdesalem Lassoued was shot dead on October 17 by the Belgian police.

< h2 class="h2-intertitre">Judicial fiasco in Belgium

The attack quickly relaunched the debate on the means of Belgian justice and the failures to monitor radicalized profiles.

After three vain attempts since 2011 in Norway, Sweden and Italy, Abdesalem Lassoued had an asylum request in Belgium rejected and had been targeted since 2021 by an expulsion order which was never executed.< /p>

After the attack, the Belgian government criticized the lack of cooperation from certain countries of origin to take back their nationals rejected from asylum: a defense undermined by the revelation of a request for extradition from Tunis.

Abdesalem Lassoued had in fact been the subject of an extradition request from Tunisia for more than a year, where he had been sentenced in 2005 to 26 years of imprisonment before escape in January 2011.

This request, received by the Belgian authorities in August 2022, was not processed by the competent magistrate of the Brussels public prosecutor's office: a failure made public on October 20 by the Minister of Justice, Vincent Van Quickenborne, who immediately resigned.

With Matthieu Demeestere in Brussels

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116