Friday, 15 July 2016
On Thursday, the court in chambers extended the length of custody Samir Chahjouani (aged 27), Moustapha Benhattal (aged 40) and Jawad Benhattal (aged 29). These three men were arrested during the night of June 17th to June 18th, and suspected of having planned an attack in the “Fan Zone” in the Place Rogier in Brussels. The Federal Prosecutor’s Office disclosed this information on Thursday.
The three men were apprehended during a wave of searches led in 40 addresses in Brussels, Molenbeek-Saint-Jean, Schaerbeek, Anderlecht, Koekelberg, Berchem-Sainte-Agathe, Evere, Forest, Watermael-Boitsfort, Ganshoren, Zaventem, Ninove, Wemmel, Fleurus, Tubize and Liège.
Nine other individuals arrested for questioning arising from these searches were freed after hearings.
Samir Chahjouani, Moustapha Benhattal and Jawad Benhattal were accused of attempted assassination within a terrorist context and participation in terrorist group activities, as perpetrators or co-principals.
The men belong to the circle of acquaintances of the El Bakraoui brothers as well as Najim Laachraoui, the terrorists who blew themselves up last March 22nd at Brussels Airport and in the metro station at Maelbeek.
They may, specifically, have intended to carry out an attack during the broadcast of the game between the Red Devils on June 18th in the “Fan Zone” in Place Rogier. No weapon or explosive was discovered during the searches despite 152 garages being checked.
The barrister Olivier Martins, Samir Chahjouani’s lawyer, stated. “My client roundly denies having intended to carry out an attack. In none of the written transcripts of wired conversations does any element point towards my client’s culpability. There is no element indicating a planned attack or an attack being prepared. Certainly discussions occurred at particular points which raise the potential issue, but there is no concrete evidence.”
Mr Martins, requested that the his client be freed.