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Europe

Paris attack suspect Salah Abdeslam to face trial in Belgium

media Police take Salah Abdeslam to court after his transfer to France AFP

Paris attacker Salah Abdeslam is to stand trial in Belgium for having fired on police officers when they stumbled upon his hiding place in March 2016. Abdeslam, the last survivor of the group that launched the 13 November Paris attacks, is currently in jail in France.

Abdeslam, 27, and his accomplice Sofiane Ayari, 24, will face charges of "attempted murder of several police officers in a terrorist context" and "bearing prohibited weapons in a terrorist context".

Three police officers belonging to a joint French-Belgian team were wounded when they raided the flat in a Brussels district, searching for accomplices of the Paris attackers who had killed 130 people four months earlier.

Abdeslam and Ayari managed to escape and a third man, who appeared to have fired on the police to provide cover, was fatally wounded.

The police only found out they had been in the building from DNA traces taken after the raid was over.

The pair were finally arrested three days later in another part of the Belgian capital.

Abdeslam in jail in France

Their capture apparently inspired members of the same terror cell to bring forward plans for an attack on Brussels Zaventem airport, which they launched four days later, killing 32 people.

Ayari is in jail in Belgium.

Abdeslam was transferred to France in 2016 to face charges relating to the Paris attacks and has been held in the Fleury-Mérogis prison near Paris since then.

To read our coverage of the November Paris attacks and their aftermath click here

His exact role in the Paris attacks remains unclear. Prosecutors believe he was in charge of logistics for the attacks, which were planned in Brussels.

He drove the three suicide bombers who blew themselves up outside the Stade de France and told investigators that he had also wanted to blow himself up at the Stade de France but had changed his mind.

Abdeslam's brother, Brahim, blew himself up in a Paris cafe during the attacks.

Woman jailed for justifying terrorism

In the south of France on Wednesday a 26-year-old former beauty pageant contestant was sentenced to two years in jail and one year suspended for justifying terrorism.

The woman, whose name has not been made public, was arrested in January.

Her mobile phone was found to have "photos of women and children in niqab and burkas, audio files of chants glorifying Islamic State, videos of a child beheading a doll and images of terror attacks and beheadings of prisoners", according to presiding magistrate Jérôme Reynes.

"Julie", as she has been referred to in press reports, made "particularly virulent" references to the need for jihad and the fight against all non-Muslims during phone calls to a man in Tunis, whom she intended to marry before going to Syria, Iraq or Yemen, Reynes said.

Former rasta, hippy, goth

Having been a drug-user, a rastafarian, a hippy and a goth, she told the court that she had converted to Islam in early 2016 at the mosque in Lunel, a town near Montpellier from which about 20 people have left to fight in Syria, some of them being killed there.

She claimed to have been indoctrinated by people who were kind to her but to have seen the error of her ways while in prison.

The court ordered her to undergo psychiatric treatment for three years and banned her from travelling abroad without a judge's authorisation.

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