Belgium extends custody of French national over Paris attacks
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A Belgian court on Friday announced that a Frenchman detained in connection with the 13 November Paris attacks will remain in custody for another month. French national Ali Oulkadi, 31, drove key suspect Salah Abdeslam across Brussels the day after the atrocities without knowing he had been involved, his lawyer said Friday.
Oulkadi was first charged on Monday with taking part in a terrorist group and terrorist killings, accusations he denies.
Oulkadi's lawyer Olivier Martins said his client had no criminal record and "absolutely" no terror links, so should be released.
"Oulkadi has only one wish - that Salah is arrested and that these things stop," Martins went on. "No one knew that Salah was wanted, he (Ali Oulkadi) did not know.".
French and Belgian authorities say Salah Abdeslam fled to Belgium where he is now the subject of a massive manhunt.
Abdeslam, is suspected of playing a key logistical role in the wave of attacks across Paris which saw 130 people killed in shootings and bombings.
The last known sighting of him was at a police check in Cambrai, northern France, in a Volkswagen Golf along with two people but he was not stopped.
His two companions have since been charged.
Giving background to his client's case, the lawyer said that around noon on Saturday 14 November Oulkadi got a call from an unnamed friend who asked him to pick him up in the Laeken area in the north-west of Brussels to take him to nearby Schaerbeek.
When he arrived, however, this friend was with another man whom Oulkadi did not immediately recognise because he was wearing a hat partly covering his face, Martins said.
Once he was in the car Oulkadi recognised him as Salah Abdeslam because Oulkadi was "one of the best friends" of his older brother Brahim Abdeslam, the lawyer added.
Oulkadi lives in the same largely Muslim district of Molenbeek - which media have dubbed a hotbed for extremists - that Salah and Brahim Abdeslam hail from.
Salah Abdeslam reportedly told Oulkadi during the drive that Brahim "had killed people and blown himself up" during the gun and bomb attacks, Martins said.
He said the revelations left Oulkadi "in a state of shock" and he drove to their destination "like an automaton".
Belgium on Tuesday also issued an international arrest warrant for Mohamed Abrini, 30, who was filmed along with Salah Abdeslam at a petrol station in Ressons, France, on the motorway to Paris, in a Renault Clio which was later used in the attacks.
In a further development, a Belgian judge on Friday charged a sixth suspect with terrorism offences in connection with the Paris attacks, prosecutors said, as the country pushes on with its investigation into links to the 13 November attacks.
The federal prosecutor said in a statement that the man was charged him with terrorist murders and participation in the activities of a terrorist organisation but gave no further details.
Two people detained for questioning after searches in the east Belgian town of Verviers, where two jihadists were killed in a gunbattle with police in January, were released on Friday, the prosecutor said.
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