Belgian court halts transfer of Paris attacker Abdeslam to France

Transfer 'temporarily suspended' over concerns it contravened the European Convention of Human Rights

Salah Abdeslam in court in September 2021. AFP
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An appeals court in Brussels on Tuesday stopped Belgian authorities sending convict Salah Abdeslam to France to continue serving a life term for the 2015 Paris terror attacks.

The only surviving member of the terrorist cell that killed 130 in the French capital, Abdeslam was in July found guilty over a 2016 attack in Brussels.

After the Brussels trial ended in September, he was due to be transferred back to France by October 12 to face the rest of his sentence.

But the Brussels court said the transfer was "temporarily suspended" over concerns it contravened the European Convention of Human Rights.

The convention protects the right to "family life" and Abdeslam's lawyers said his relatives were all in Belgium, where he grew up despite holding French citizenship.

"It's a victory, a great relief," his lawyer Michel Bouchat told news channel LN24.

In prison in Belgium, "he can receive visits from his relatives", and benefits from "better conditions with a view to his resocialisation", the lawyer said.

The case for the transfer will now go back to another Brussels court for further examination.

Abdeslam, 34, has spent most of his detention in France since his arrest in March 2016.

He was handed over to Belgium in 2022 to face trial there on the proviso that he would be returned.

The Paris and Brussels massacres were part of a wave of attacks claimed by ISIS in Europe.

In addition to his life sentence in France, Abdeslam is also facing a 20-year sentence in Belgium.

Updated: October 03, 2023, 9:10 PM