France charges key suspect Bakkali over Paris attacks

France on Friday charged terror suspect Mohamed Bakkali over his alleged key role in the 2015 Paris attacks, a judicial source said.

France charges key suspect Bakkali over Paris attacks
A van carrying Jawad Bendaoud, charged with harbouring jihadists during the November 2015 terror attacks, arrives at the courthouse of Paris on January 24th, 2018. Photo: AFP

Bakkali is suspected of helping to organise the coordinated gun and suicide bomb attacks in the French capital in November 2015 which left 130 people dead.

The 30-year-old had been arrested in Belgium barely two weeks after the terror attacks and kept in custody there in connection with them.

Earlier Friday, Brussels handed Bakkali over to French authorities on condition that he would serve any eventual sentence in Belgium.

French prosecutors charged Bakkali with being an accomplice in the 2015 terror killings.

Heavily armed jihadists had attacked the national stadium, bars and restaurants in Paris, as well as the Bataclan concert venue.

Bakkali is accused of renting a BMW seen near three safe houses where the attacks were prepared.

He was also charged Friday over his alleged involvement in an August 2015 attack on a high-speed Paris-bound train that left two passengers injured.

Further casualties were narrowly averted on the Thalys train from Amsterdam to Paris when passengers including two off-duty US servicemen subdued gunman Ayoub El Khazzani — who had fought for the Islamic State group in Syria – as he opened fire.

The incident added further weight to the theory that the French-Belgian IS network had been behind the Paris attacks in 2015 and a triple suicide bombings in Brussels in March the following year.

Earlier this week, the first trial stemming from the Paris attacks opened in Paris.

The main defendant, drug dealer and landlord Jawad Bendaoud, is accused of taking in two of the jihadists at his suburban apartment days after the carnage.

Bendaoud, 31, rented the flat north of Paris to Abdelhamid Abaaoud – a senior Islamic State jihadist suspected of coordinating the assaults – and his accomplice Chakib Akrouh.

Bendaoud has rejected the allegations, insisting that he did not know that the two men were terrorists.

The only survivor among the 10 gunmen who carried out the killing spree in Paris, Salah Abdeslam, is due to appear in court in Belgium early next month.

READ ALSO: Belgium charges two over 2015 Thalys train attack


Surgeon fined for trying to sell Paris terror attack victim’s x-ray

A Paris court on Wednesday convicted a surgeon for trying to sell an X-Ray image of a wounded arm of a woman who survived the 2015 terror attacks in the French capital.

Surgeon fined for trying to sell Paris terror attack victim's x-ray

Found guilty of violating medical secrecy, renowned orthopaedic surgeon Emmanuel Masmejean must pay the victim €5,000 or face two months in jail, judges ordered.

Masmejean, who works at the Georges-Pompidou hospital in western Paris, posted the image of a young woman’s forearm penetrated by a Kalashnikov bullet on marketplace Opensea in late 2021.

The site allows its roughly 20 million users to trade non-fungible tokens (NFTs) – certificates of ownership of an artwork that are stored on a “blockchain” similar to the technology used to secure cryptocurrencies.

In the file’s description, the surgeon wrote that the young woman he had operated on had “lost her boyfriend in the attack” on the Bataclan concert hall, the focus of the November 2015 gun and bomb assault in which jihadists killed 130 people.

The X-Ray image never sold for the asking price of $2,776, and was removed from Opensea after being revealed by investigative website Mediapart in January.

Masmejean claimed at a September court hearing that he had been carrying out an “experiment” by putting a “striking and historic medical image” online – while acknowledging that it had been “idiocy, a mistake, a blunder”.

The court did not find him guilty of two further charges of abuse of personal data and illegally revealing harmful personal information.

Nor was he barred from practicing as prosecutors had urged, with the lead judge saying it would be “disproportionate and inappropriate” to inflict such a “social death” on the doctor.

The victim’s lawyer Elodie Abraham complained of a “politically correct” judgement.

“It doesn’t bother anyone that there’s been such a flagrant breach of medical secrecy. It’s not a good message for doctors,” Abraham said.

Neither Masmejean, who has been suspended from his hospital job, nor the victim were present for Wednesday’s ruling.

The surgeon may yet face professional consequences after appearing before the French medical association in September, his lawyer Ivan Terel said.