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Belgian suspect charged in France after Paris attacks

© Belga
The Belgian, Farid Kharkhach, is the latest suspect to be charged in the Paris attacks investigation.
© Belga

Farid Kharkhach, one of the suspects of the attacks of November 13th, 2015 in Paris, was questioned in Laeken at the beginning of this year and returned to France on June 9th. He was charged with participating in the activities of a terrorist group, and imprisoned in France. The AFP learned this on Wednesday from sources close to the case.

Farid Kharkhach, aged 35, had been returned to the French authorities on June 9th following the execution of an arrest warrant by anti-terrrorist judges responsible for the investigation. He was charged with “associating with terrorists with a view to preparing attacks on individuals.”

According to this arrest warrant, issued on March 8th, he had admitted supplying false documents in December 2014, then in August and September 2015, at the request of Khalid El Bakraoui. The latter is known to have blown himself up in a metro train at Maelbeek station. He had also played a role in the Paris attacks in November 2015.

Kharkhach was arrested in Belgium in January with his wife and had already been charged by the Belgian courts, for “participation in terrorist group activities”, and placed in pretrial detention. In their arrest warrant, cited by a source close to the case, the French judges stress that “Taken together most of the perpetrators (of the November 13th attacks, editors’ note) amassed between them a total of 14 false Belgian identity documents, stemming from the same forgery exercise.”

These false papers proved a decisive factor in the men’s activities, enabling them to “complete the preparation for the attacks and in particular to hire the flats used in the conspiracy, to go to Europe to make up the terrorist cell and to withdraw money.” Some documents had been forged in a counterfeiters’ workshop discovered within the Brussels agglomeration, during an entirely separate investigation in October 2015, one month before the Paris attacks. In this case, which subsequently led them to Farid Kharkhach, the investigators had seized IT files containing several false identities used by members of the Franco-Belgian cell, which Salah Abdeslam belonged to.

The courts blamed Farid Kharkhach for involvement in this activity as he knew of the “radicalisation” of El Bakraoui and fully “understood that these false papers were not intended for sale on the Internet”, as the latter had claimed.

The Parisian judges have three days from Wednesday to hear the proceedings for those claiming damages in the proceedings for the November 13th, 2015 attacks, which occurred in Paris and Saint-Denis in the north of the capital. These caused 130 deaths carried out by three Belgian commandos. In total, around a dozen suspects, some held in Belgium, have been charged or made subject to an arrest warrant in this now sprawling case, conducted by a total of six judges.

Oscar Schneider
The Brussels Times