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France charges key suspect Bakkali over Paris attacks

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France charges key suspect Bakkali over Paris attacks
A van carrying Jawad Bendaoud, charged with harbouring jihadists during the November 2015 terror attacks, arrives at the courthouse of Paris on January 24th, 2018. Photo: AFP
08:27 CET+01:00
France on Friday charged terror suspect Mohamed Bakkali over his alleged key role in the 2015 Paris attacks, a judicial source said.

Bakkali is suspected of helping to organise the coordinated gun and suicide bomb attacks in the French capital in November 2015 which left 130 people dead.

The 30-year-old had been arrested in Belgium barely two weeks after the terror attacks and kept in custody there in connection with them.

Earlier Friday, Brussels handed Bakkali over to French authorities on condition that he would serve any eventual sentence in Belgium.

French prosecutors charged Bakkali with being an accomplice in the 2015 terror killings.

Heavily armed jihadists had attacked the national stadium, bars and restaurants in Paris, as well as the Bataclan concert venue.

Bakkali is accused of renting a BMW seen near three safe houses where the attacks were prepared.

He was also charged Friday over his alleged involvement in an August 2015 attack on a high-speed Paris-bound train that left two passengers injured.

Further casualties were narrowly averted on the Thalys train from Amsterdam to Paris when passengers including two off-duty US servicemen subdued gunman Ayoub El Khazzani -- who had fought for the Islamic State group in Syria - as he opened fire.

The incident added further weight to the theory that the French-Belgian IS network had been behind the Paris attacks in 2015 and a triple suicide bombings in Brussels in March the following year.

Earlier this week, the first trial stemming from the Paris attacks opened in Paris.

The main defendant, drug dealer and landlord Jawad Bendaoud, is accused of taking in two of the jihadists at his suburban apartment days after the carnage.

Bendaoud, 31, rented the flat north of Paris to Abdelhamid Abaaoud - a senior Islamic State jihadist suspected of coordinating the assaults - and his accomplice Chakib Akrouh.

Bendaoud has rejected the allegations, insisting that he did not know that the two men were terrorists.

The only survivor among the 10 gunmen who carried out the killing spree in Paris, Salah Abdeslam, is due to appear in court in Belgium early next month.

READ ALSO: Belgium charges two over 2015 Thalys train attack

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