Brussels attacks: Man charged with terrorist offences

CCTV footage of three suspects at Brussels airport - 22 March 2016 Image copyright AFP
Image caption CCTV shows three men at the airport. The third, to the right of the two suicide bombers, is yet to be officially identified

Belgian prosecutors have charged a man with terrorist offences, in connection with Tuesday's attacks in Brussels that left 28 people dead.

He was named as Faycal C and was arrested on Thursday.

At least half the victims died at the airport, the rest in an attack on the metro in suicide bombings claimed by so-called Islamic State (IS).

Zaventem - Brussels international airport - will not reopen before Tuesday, authorities have announced.

Meanwhile a demonstration against the attacks, planned for Sunday in central Brussels, has been cancelled after a request from the authorities.

Organisers said people's security was a top priority.

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media caption'We can't let them win by scaring us'

More about the attacks

Why have jihadists targeted Belgium?

Why Brussels warning signs were missed

From Paris to Brussels: Why the attacks are linked

What we know so far

Victims and survivors

Image copyright AP
Image caption People are continuing to pay tribute to the victims of the attacks

Belgian prosecutors said that Faycal C had been detained outside the prosecutor's office in Brussels on Thursday. A search of his home had found no weapons.

Faycal C was charged with "participation in the activities of a terrorist group, terrorist murders and attempted terrorist murders," a statement said.

It gave no further details and made no comment on Belgian media reports that he was the third man in an airport CCTV image that showed the two suicide bombers - Najim Laachraoui on the left, and Brahim el-Bakraoui. Belgian media say the third man is Faycal Cheffou, a freelance journalist.

The third man, wearing a hat and pale jacket, also had luggage packed with explosives. However he was said to have fled without detonating his device. It was detonated in a controlled explosion once the departures hall was cleared.

Brahim el-Bakraoui's brother Khalid carried out the Maelbeek metro attack.

French 'plot'

Faycal C was among 12 people arrested on Thursday and Friday in police raids in Belgium, France and Germany.

Four days before the Brussels attacks, the key suspect in the 13 November Paris attacks which killed 130 people, Salah Abdeslam, was detained in a raid in Brussels. Police said he was initially co-operative.

But Belgian Justice Minister Koen Geens later confirmed in parliament that Abdeslam "no longer wants to talk since [Tuesday's] attacks" in Brussels.

Other arrests confirmed by prosecutors include:

  • A man named as Rabah N, who has been charged with participation in the activities of a terrorist group. This followed the arrest on Friday in a Paris suburb of Reda Kriket, 34, who was alleged to be in the "advanced stage" of plotting an attack
  • A man named as Abubakar A had been placed under arrest and charged with participation in the activities of a terrorist group, prosecutors said
  • Another man who was detained after being shot in the legs at a Brussels tram stop on Friday was Abderamane A, whose detention has been extended

In the latest arrest to be reported, Italian media said police had apprehended an Algerian man wanted in Belgium on suspicion of supplying fake documents used by three men linked to the attacks in Brussels and Paris.

The suspect was detained in the southern town of Bellizzi, in the Salerno area, the Italian news agency Ansa said.

Security measures

Separately, Brussels airport authorities said the "investigative work related to the judicial inquiry into the airport terminal has been completed" but that passenger activity could not resume before Tuesday.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Bombs ripped through the departures hall at Zaventem airport on Tuesday

Airport engineers and technicians are getting access to the terminal for the first time since the attack.

They will assess the damage and stability of the building. The airport authorities will also put new security measures in place.

The check-in area suffered severe damage when two blasts seconds apart hit opposite ends of the departures hall.

In figures released on Saturday, the Crisis Centre said (in French) that 28 people had been killed, in addition to three attackers. Of the 24 identified so far, 14 had been killed at the airport, and 10 at the metro station. Eleven of them are foreigners.

In addition to the dead, 340 people were injured. One hundred and one remain in hospital, of whom 62 are in intensive care.

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Media captionSoldiers are patrolling Zaventem airport, Anna Holligan reports

In his weekly address on Saturday, US President Barack Obama paid his respects to the victims and said attempts to stigmatise Muslim-Americans should be rejected.

Meanwhile, US singer Mariah Carey has cancelled a concert scheduled for Brussels on Sunday, citing security concerns.

In a separate development, Belgian prosecutors denied the murder of a security official at the Fleurus nuclear research centre was a terrorist act, the Belga news agency reported.

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