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France puts suspected militant under investigation for kidnapping journalists
November 15, 2017 / 12:35 PM / 6 days ago

France puts suspected militant under investigation for kidnapping journalists

PARIS (Reuters) - A suspected Islamist militant accused of killing four in a 2014 attack on a Jewish museum in Belgium was placed under former investigation in France on Wednesday for allegedly kidnapping four French journalists in Syria.

Mehdi Nemmouche was briefly transferred to Paris from a jail cell in Belgium, where he is being held pending a trial over the May 2014 attack in which four people including two Israeli tourists were killed in Brussels.

Speaking outside Paris’s lawcourts, a lawyer for Nemmouche said his client had been notified of the additional French probe and that he had chosen to say nothing on the advice of his legal team.

“The investigating judge told him he had been formally put under investigation over the kidnapping and hostage-taking of four French journalists in relation with a terrorist group,” Vuillemin said.

Nemmouche was arrested by police in the southern French port city of Marseille shortly after the Brussels shooting attack and extradited to Belgium in July 2014.

French journalists who were released months earlier after almost a year in captivity in Syria identified him as their jailor there and said he was among French nationals working with the Islamic State group.

Wednesday’s brief transfer to Paris came two days after the second anniversary of other attacks in which Islamist militants, some of them residents of Belgium, killed 130 people in Paris.

Scores more have been killed in Belgium, France, Britain and Spain in attacks commissioned or inspired by the Islamic State group, whose territory in Syria and Iraq is diminishing under military pressure from an international coalition.

Reporting by Brian Love and Emmanuel Jarry; editing by Richard Lough

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