Belgium backs extradition of Jewish Museum suspect to France
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Belgium backs extradition of Jewish Museum suspect to France

Mehdi Nemmouche wanted in Paris over suspected involvement in captivity of French journalists in Syria, months before Brussels attack that killed 4

Pictures released on June 1, 2014, show then-29-year-old suspected terrorist Mehdi Nemmouche. (AFP)
Pictures released on June 1, 2014, show then-29-year-old suspected terrorist Mehdi Nemmouche. (AFP)

BRUSSELS — A Belgian court Thursday backed the eventual extradition to France of the suspect in a deadly attack on a Jewish museum in Brussels in 2014, prosecutors said.

French national Mehdi Nemmouche, 31, is also suspected by Paris of being among the captors of four French journalists who were kept hostage in Syria.

“This morning, the pre-trial chamber of the Brussels court of first degree has declared enforceable the European Arrest Warrant that had been issued by the French judicial authorities against Mehdi Nemmouche,” the Belgian federal prosecutor said in a statement.

He can be sent to France “when Belgium no longer needs him” in relation to the Jewish Museum attack in which four people were killed, a spokesman for the prosecutor told AFP.

Mira and Emanuel Riva, an Israeli couple killed in the terror attack on the Brussels Jewish Museum on May 24, 2014 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Mira and Emanuel Riva, an Israeli couple killed in the terror attack on the Brussels Jewish Museum on May 24, 2014 (photo credit: Courtesy)

On May 24, 2014, Nemmouche is believed to have opened fire in the entrance hall of the museum in the center of the Belgian capital, killing two Israeli tourists, a French volunteer and a Belgian museum receptionist.

Nemmouche was arrested six days later in the southern French port city of Marseille and sent to Belgium two months later, where he faces trial at an unspecified date in the future. He was arrested during a routine customs inspection with a bag full of weapons similar to the ones used at the museum.

The museum reopened four months later under heavy security.

Policemen stand guard around the site of a shooting near the Jewish Museum in Brussels, on May 24, 2014. Three people were killed and one badly injured in a shoot-out Saturday near the Jewish Museum in Brussels city centre. Photo credit: AFP/Belga/ Nicolas Maeterlinck)
Policemen stand guard around the site of a shooting near the Jewish Museum in Brussels, on May 24, 2014. Three people were killed and one badly injured in a shoot-out Saturday near the Jewish Museum in Brussels city centre. Photo credit: AFP/Belga/ Nicolas Maeterlinck)

Nemmouche, who is believed to have fought with Islamists in Syria, was under surveillance by French and Belgian security services, according to prosecutors in both countries. French authorities have identified him as one of the jihadists who kept four French journalists hostage until they were freed in April 2014 in Syria.

In September 2015 France extradited another suspect in the Jewish Museum attack — Mounir Atallah — to Belgium.

JTA contributed to this report

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