Belgian Court Orders Release of Paris Attacks Suspect

Belgian Court Orders Release of Paris Attacks Suspect
Belgian soldiers stand guard in front of the Brussels' Palace of Justice, January 22, 2016. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – A Belgian court released from custody on Friday one of 10 people charged with involvement in the Paris attacks because of insufficient evidence against him, his lawyer said.

Ayoub Bazarouj, 22, was detained after a search of his house on December 30, being charged the next day with terrorist murder and participation in a terrorist organization.

Federal prosecutors confirmed the court had authorized his release, but said that they had not dropped the charges.

However, Bazarouj’s lawyer Yannick De Vlaemynck said that the court had decided that there was not sufficient evidence for either charge and had released him without conditions.

Many of those being held in Belgium are charged with having aided Salah Abdeslam, a former Brussels resident who was in Paris on the night of the Nov. 13 attacks, in which 130 people were killed.

“He knew of Salah Abdeslam as he lived in the area, but he was not a friend and there are no elements showing that he provided help in any way,” De Vlaemynck said.

Separately, one of two men detained this week on suspicion of ties to the Nov. 13 Paris attackers, Mustafa E. has also been released. The other man, Zakaria J. is set to appear before a judge later on Friday.

Belgium has been at the heart of investigations into attacks in Paris on Nov. 13 in which 130 people were killed, as four of the Paris suicide bombers had either been living in Belgium or were Belgian-Moroccans.

Belgian investigators are also looking for two fugitives, notably Abdeslam, whose brother was one of the suicide attackers.

(Reporting By Philip Blenkinsop; editing by Robert-Jan Bartunek and Toby Chopra)