BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Salah Abdeslam, a key suspect in November’s Paris attacks, has been charged with attempted murder in Belgium during a police shootout in Brussels three days before his arrest, prosecutors said.
Abdeslam, who is due to be extradited to France in the next few weeks over his part in the attacks in Paris by Islamic State militants that killed 130 people, appeared before a Belgian judge on Thursday.
Four police officers were wounded and an Islamist gunman was killed in the shootout at a suspected militant safe house in the Brussels district of Forest on March 15.
Investigators found fingerprints of Abdeslam, who was born in Belgium to Moroccan-born parents, at the scene.
“He was charged with attempted murder over the shooting in Forest,” a spokesman for Belgium’s federal prosecutors said, adding that he did not believe charging Abdeslam would delay his extradition to France.
Abdeslam has told a magistrate he had planned to blow himself up at a sports stadium in Paris on Nov. 13 but backed out at the last minute.
He has also told investigators he arranged logistics for the Paris attacks.
Abdeslam’s elder brother Brahim, a Brussels barkeeper, blew himself up outside a Parisian cafe on the night of the attacks.
Salah Abdeslam’s lawyer has said his client has admitted being in Paris during the attacks but has given no further details.
Reporting by Robert-Jan Bartunek; editing by Philip Blenkinsop and Tony Jimenez