Friday, 16 April 2021 12:26 GMT

Hollande to meet Paris attack victims after suspect captured

(MENAFN - The Peninsula) French President Francois Hollande (R) and Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian shake hands with veterans after he delivered a speech to commemorate the end of the war with Algeria at a ceremony in Paris France March 19 2016. REUTERS/Christophe Petit Tesson/Pool

Paris:French President Francois Hollande on Monday was set to hold his first formal meeting with victims of the November 13 attacks in Paris three days after Belgian police captured key suspect Saleh Abdeslam.

Georges Salines the head of one victims' group 13 Novembre: Fraternite et Verite (November 13: Fraternity and Truth) said Hollande would be quizzed on his strategy for fighting the Islamic State jihadist group which claimed the assault.

"What is being done to prevent future attacks? What are France's international goals what is being done to eliminate IS?" asked Salines whose daughter was among those killed.

Hollande's office on Saturday announced the long-delayed meeting with five victims' associations formed after the attacks that claimed 130 lives and injured hundreds.

Hollande has met with victims previously at ceremonies but this is the first formal meeting.

A Hollande aide said 26-year-old Abdeslam's dramatic capture in a Brussels raid on Friday "made the meeting all the more timely."

Salines said the Elysee Palace had turned down several requests for a meeting. "More spontaneity would have been appreciated" he said ironically.

Abdeslam a Belgian-born French citizen is thought to be the last surviving member of the 10-man jihadist team that carried out the Paris attacks.

Victims' groups said they were relieved he was captured alive to face justice.

Sven Mary a lawyer for Abdeslam launched a legal fight on Sunday to block his extradition to France.

Mary also said his client would lodge a legal complaint against a French prosecutor who divulged the details of the first interrogation with the suspect to journalists on Saturday.

"I don't understand why a prosecutor in Paris has to communicate at this stage on an investigation in Belgium" Mary told the newspaper Le Soir on Sunday.

Abdeslam "is worth gold. He is collaborating he's communicating he is not using his right to remain silent" Mary said.

Paris prosector Francois Molins on Saturday told reporters Abdeslam had played a "central role" in planning the attacks at the Bataclan concert hall national stadium and several bars and restaurants.

Molins said Abdeslam had told interrogators he had wanted to blow himself up at the Stade de France before changing his mind.

An explosives-filled vest was later found in southern Paris in an area where he had been according to mobile phone signals.


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