Paris attacks: Mohamed Abrini to be extradited to France

Images of suspect Mohamed Abrini Image copyright Belgian police
Image caption Mohamed Abrini was captured on CCTV (R) at a service station at Ressons in northern France while driving a car with Paris suspect Salah Abdeslam

A Belgian court has approved the extradition to France of Mohamed Abrini, a key suspect in both the Paris and Brussels attacks.

He was identified as "the man in the hat", seen on CCTV moments before the explosions at Brussels airport in March.

Prosecutors say he may not be handed over for some time, as he is being investigated in Belgium too.

Mohamed Bakkali, another suspect in the Paris attacks, will also be extradited.

The Belgian judges agreed both men should be sent to France to face questioning over the Paris attacks last November in which 130 people were killed.

Before Thursday's hearing, Belgian prosecutors said Mohamed Abrini would not be handed over to the French authorities immediately, as he was still being investigated over the bombings at Zaventem airport and at a metro station immediately after.

"The timeline is not at all fixed," a spokesman for the federal prosecutors' office said.

He added it was possible that Mohamed Abrini could stand trial in Belgium first before being handed over to France, or he might be questioned in Belgium by French investigators.

Image copyright Police Federale
Image caption Mohamed Abrini admitted being "the man with the hat" accompanying two Brussels airport bombers during the attacks on 22 March

Islamic State network

Mohamed Abrini, a 31-year-old Belgian of Moroccan descent, was filmed at a petrol station in northern France with fellow suspect Salah Abdeslam, two days before the Paris attacks.

He reportedly told investigators he was at the scene of the 22 March suicide bombings in Brussels, which killed 32 people.

Investigators claim the Brussels and Paris attackers were part of the same network - backed by so-called Islamic State.

Mohamed Abrini was said to be part of that cell, and before his arrest in Brussels in April was one of Europe's most-wanted men.

The other suspect to be extradited, 29-year-old Mohamed Bakkali, is believed to have rented the Brussels apartment where the suicide vests used in the Paris attacks were assembled.