Two men charged in Paris over Brussels attack

A Paris judge has charged two men suspected of links with the Islamist gunman who killed two Swedish football fans in Brussels on 16 October, French anti-terror prosecutors said on Tuesday.

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The Paris judge charged the men on Monday with forming a terrorist criminal group and complicity in murder linked to a terrorist plot.

France’s anti-terror prosecutor’s office added that the men were placed in detention.

Abdesalem Lassoued, a radicalised 45-year-old Tunisian, shot dead the fans before a Belgium-Sweden international football match on October 16 and was himself fatally shot in a police operation afterwards.

French prosecutors opened a formal investigation into a suspected “criminal terrorist conspiracy” after receiving information on the case from the Belgian judiciary.

The investigation into the two suspects, who live in the Paris region, “is continuing to determine their links” with Lassoued, the prosecutors said.

One suspect has lived in France for almost 20 years and denies the allegations, his lawyer Souleymen Rakrouki told AFP.

“He has nothing to do with the attack,” Rakrouki said.

The attacker “is a friend he has known for a long time, he had not seen any sign of radicalisation. He could have never imagined such an act”, Rakrouki added.

The suspects were among four people arrested last week as part of the investigation into possible accomplices of Lassoued.

Police have released the other two without charge.

Lassoued had escaped from a Tunisian prison where he was serving a long sentence, but Belgian authorities failed to deal with an August 2022 extradition request made by Tunisian officials.

The shootings renewed debate in Belgium over judicial and administrative errors in following up on radicalised persons, particularly by the immigration services.

Official documents showed that Lassoued had lodged asylum applications in Norway, Sweden, Italy and Belgium.

He had stayed in Belgium illegally after his bid for asylum was rejected in 2020.

An order was issued for his expulsion in March 2021 but never carried out.

 (AFP) Two men charged in Paris over Brussels attack

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