Paris attack suspect 'worth weight in gold' to police: lawyer
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[March 21, 2016]
BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The only
suspected participant in Nov. 13 Paris attacks to be captured alive has
been cooperating with police investigators and is "worth his weight in
gold", his lawyer said on Monday.
Belgium's Interior Minister Jan Jambon said the country was on
high alert for a possible revenge attack following the capture of
26-year-old Salah Abdeslam in a flat in Brussels on Friday.
"We know that stopping one cell can ...push others into action. We
are aware of it in this case," he told public radio.
French investigator Francois Molins told a news conference in Paris
on Saturday Abdeslam had admitted to investigators he had wanted to
blow himself up along with others at the Stade de France on the
night of the attack claimed by Islamic State; but he later backed
Abdeslam's lawyer Sven Mary said he would sue Molins for making the
comment public, calling it a violation of judicial confidentiality.
Mary said Abdeslam was now fully cooperating with investigators.
"I think that Salah Abdeslam is of prime importance for this
investigation. I would even say he is worth his weight in gold. He
is collaborating. He is communicating. He is not maintaining his
right to remain silent," Mary told Belgian public broadcaster RTBF.
MORE OPERATIONS PLANNED?
As the only suspected participant or planner of the Paris attack in
police custody, Abdeslam would be seen by investigators as a
possible major source of information on others involved, in support
networks, finance and links with Islamic State in Syria. There would
also be urgent interest in finding out what further attacks might be
Belgian prosecutors said in a statement they were looking for Najim
Laachraoui, 25, using the false name of Soufiane Kayal. His DNA had
been found in houses in Belgium used by the Paris attackers.
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Belgian Foreign Minister Didier Reynders said on Sunday that
Abdeslam may have been plotting more operations drawing on a weapons
discovered in the Forest district of Brussels and a network of
Jambon said he could not confirm that, but it was a possibility.
"After 18 months of dealing with this terrorist issue, I have
learned that when the terrorists and weapons are in the same place,
and that's what we saw in Forest, we are close to an attack. I'm not
saying it is evidence. But yes, there are indications," he said.
Reynders said Belgium and France had so far found around 30 people
involved in the gun and bomb attacks on bars, a sports stadium and a
concert hall in the French capital.
(Reporting By Jan Strupczewski and Barbara Lewis; editing by Ralph
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