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    Yassine Atar remains in custody for terror attacks

    © Belga
    © Belga

    The first arrest warrant issued against Yassine Atar for “terrorism” has been lifted by the investigating judge, according to the RTL-TVi radio and television company. The federal office of the public prosecutor, OPP, said this was a common-sense decision since there is already a Belgian warrant for his arrest as well as a European warrant issued by France in connection with the Paris terror attacks.

    Yassine Atar had been arrested on the 27th of March 2016, along with two other suspects, on suspicion of planning an attack during the March against Fear, which had been scheduled for the same day in Brussels, but was cancelled by the authorities the day before. It is the arrest warrant that led to his arrest that has been lifted, the OPP said.

    Within the framework of the Belgian investigation into the Paris attacks, perpetrated on 13 November 2015, the Brussels Council Chamber ordered that Yassine Atar be kept in preventive detention for a further two months, the OPP reported on Thursday. If he appeals against that decision, he will appear before the Appeal Court’s Indictment Chamber within two weeks

    When arrested, Atar had a key to a dwelling located at 86 rue Henri Bergé in Schaerbeek, where the explosive belts used during the Paris attacks had been made and where Abdeslam had been in hiding for many weeks. Traces of nitroglycerine were also found on him, but this was contested by his family. According to the results of a second-opinion test, the nitroglycerine was found in tiny quantities on his body.

    Yassine Atar was remanded into custody based on an arrest warrant on the 31st of March last within the framework of the Belgian leg of the investigation into the Paris attacks and charged with terrorist killings and participation in the activities of a terrorist group as its leader. He is the cousin of the El Bakraoui brothers, who blew themselves up during the attacks on Brussels Airport and the Maelbeek metro station. He is also the brother of Oussama Atar, the presumed mastermind of the Brussels attacks.

    The Brussels Council Chamber ordered the enforcement of the European arrest warrant issued by France, which authorizes it to hand Atar over to the French authorities at least for the time it takes to have him indicted.

    Christopher Vincent
    The Brussels Times