Brussels Attack: Two Tunisians Indicted and Imprisoned in Paris

The investigation into the terrorist attack carried out on October 16 in Brussels is progressing in Paris, where two Tunisians, who live in the Paris region, were indicted on Monday evening by a French judge, with further investigations needed to determine their links to the attacker.

These two men have been indicted for criminal terrorist association and complicity in murder related to a terrorist enterprise, and have been placed in pretrial detention, the National Anti-Terrorism Prosecutor’s Office (Pnat) said Tuesday.

According to sources close to the case, the two men are Tunisian and in their forties and fifties. A third source emphasized that they do not know each other.

– Phone contacts and jacket –

Police guard the house where the man suspected of killing two Swedes in Brussels was fatally wounded in the Belgian capital on October 17, 2023.

The gun attack in Brussels claimed the lives of two Swedish nationals – a man in his seventies and another in his sixties – who had gone to support their national football team in Belgium.

The attack also left a 70-year-old Swede injured. The injured individual is still receiving treatment at a hospital in Belgium, the Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated on Tuesday.

On October 17, an investigation was opened in Paris following information provided by Belgian judicial authorities, the Pnat stated.

Four individuals potentially linked to the attacker had been arrested on Thursday in two departments in western France and the Paris region. Two of the four in custody have been released.

The man in his forties who was indicted, and who has lived in France for nearly twenty years, strongly denies the accusations, stated his lawyer when contacted by AFP.

“He has nothing to do with the attack,” said lawyer Souleymen Rakrouki. The assailant, Abdesalem Lassoued, a 45-year-old radicalized Tunisian, is a longtime friend whom he had not seen signs of radicalization from. He could never have imagined such an act taking place.

Investigators are particularly interested in the exchanges that this man, who lives in Val-de-Marne and was arrested there, may have had with the assailant both before and after the attack, said one of the sources.

According to Le Parisien, which disclosed the existence of these contacts, they exchanged voice messages during the weekend prior to the attack, particularly regarding the football match between the Belgian and Swedish national teams. Another phone contact, after the attack, lasted one or two minute(s).

Lawyer Rakrouki declined to comment on the substance of the case.

Moreover, a jacket resembling the one worn by the assailant was found during a search at the residence of the man in his fifties who was indicted, two sources close to the case told AFP.

His lawyers, Pierre-Henri Baert and Louise Hennon, declined to comment, though they emphasized their client’s concerning state of health at the time of his appearance before the examining magistrate on Monday.

The investigation continues to determine the links between the two indicted individuals and the assailant, the Pnat emphasized.

Abdesalem Lassoued was shot dead by Belgian police on October 17.

– Judicial fiasco in Belgium –

Police deployed in the Schaerbeek district where an attack claimed the lives of two Swedes on October 17, 2023, in Brussels.

The attack quickly reignited the debate over the means of Belgian justice and the shortcomings in monitoring radicalized individuals.

After three unsuccessful attempts since 2011 in Norway, Sweden, and Italy, Abdesalem Lassoued had been denied asylum in Belgium and had been the subject of an expulsion order since 2021, which was never executed.

Following the attack, the Belgian government criticized the lack of cooperation from certain countries of origin in taking back their nationals who had been denied asylum, a defense that was undermined by the revelation of an extradition request from Tunisia.

Abdesalem Lassoued had been the target of an extradition request from Tunisia for over a year. He had been sentenced to 26 years in prison in Tunisia in 2005 before escaping in January 2011.

This request, received by Belgian authorities in August 2022, was not dealt with by the competent magistrate at the Brussels prosecutor’s office, a violation made public on October 20 by Justice Minister Vincent Van Quickenborne, who promptly resigned.

Leave a Reply