France to Rule on Extradition of Brussels Suspect on June 26
A French court said Thursday it will decide on June 26 whether to extradite to Belgium the man suspected of carrying out a deadly shooting at the Jewish Museum in Brussels last month.
The court's decision had been deferred last week, as the lawyer representing French-Algerian Islamist Mehdi Nemmouche, 29, told the court in Versailles, west of Paris, that he needed more time to prepare his arguments as his client formally confirmed he was contesting his handover to Belgian authorities.
"We want him to be judged in France, first of all because he is French and he is in France," Pepiezep said, emphasizing that some of the charges Nemmouche faces, such as the illegal carrying of arms, have been brought by the French authorities.
But AFP now reports that Nemmouche, who was detained several days after the attack that left four people dead, told the court he was not opposed to his transfer to Belgium as long as he has assurances he will not be sent on to a third country.
The suspected terrorist spent over a year fighting in Syria withing the ranks of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) one of the most brutal Islamist groups involved in that country's civil war and which in recent days has seized vast swathes of Iraqi territory, including the country's second city Mosul.
Nemmouche was arrested in possession of a Kalashnikov and a pistol similar to the weapons used in the museum killings. He was also found to be carrying a camera on which he appeared to have filmed himself admitting responsibility for the attack, according to police sources.
According to police sources, he has said virtually nothing to his interrogators since he was arrested following a random customs inspection of the bus on which he was travelling on its arrival in Marseille.
Nemmouche's victims in Brussels included an Israeli couple and a French volunteer at the museum, who were all killed instantly. Another man, a museum employee, was left in a critical condition and died shortly afterwards.
The 29-year-old is thought to be the first veteran of the Syrian conflict to have carried out an attack of this kind in Europe.
Terrorism experts have warned there could be more as battle-hardened terrorists who were born and raised in western European countries make their way back from Syria. Estimates from security agencies suggest there could be more than 1,500 such militants in Syria.
Nemmouche's attack came just over two years after another French Islamist gunman, Mohammed Merah, killed seven people in the southern city of Toulouse.
Merah's victims were a rabbi, three Jewish children and three French paratroopers. He died himself in a police shootout.