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News 17 Aug 16

Bulgaria to Send Terror Suspect to France

Mourad Hamyd, the brother-in-law of Charlie Hebdo attacker Cherif Kouachi, who was arrested in Bulgaria in July, will be extradited to France, where he is being investigated for alleged terrorism. 

Mariya Cheresheva BIRN Sofia
Photo: Alex Hannam/Flickr

Sofia City Court on Tuesday ruled that French citizen Mourad Hamyd could be extradited to France, in a decision that is final and cannot be appealed.

The brother-in-law of Cherif Kouachi, the Islamist who killed 12 people connected to the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo last January, Hamyd will remain under arrest until his extradition, the court decided.

Hamyd’s European arrest warrant says that there is information that he participated in a criminal group involved in organising terror attacks.

Investigators in France believe that he was willing to join ISIS in Iraq and Syria. He visited websites with jihadist content, the French authorities have said.

The 20-year-old student was intercepted on the Bulgarian-Turkish border on July 29, after the Turkish authorities sent him back to Bulgaria. His family in France reported him missing on July 25.

According to the Bulgarian prosecutor’s office, he had arrived in Bulgaria by train via Serbia on July 26, stating that a one-week vacation was the reason for his visit. Two days later had he crossed the border with Turkey with his valid documents.

But the Turkish authorities have deported him immediately, as he had a ban on entering the country for a five-day period.

During his first court hearing on August 10, Hamyd claimed that he has been a “victim of injustice” and complained that he had been “treated like a dog” during the arrest.

On August 11 he told BTV that he condemned the jihadists and that Kouachi was just his brother-in-law, married to his sister, and that they had not met often.

Hamyd came into the spotlight last January, when he was declared a prime suspect in the Charlie Hebdo attack case hours after two brothers, Said and Cherif Kouachi, killed 12 people and injured 11 more in an attack on staffer of the satirical magazine in Paris.

Police believed he was the getaway driver who helped the attackers flee the scene.

Later he was cleared of all charges and released.

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Background

Western Balkans on Alert Over ISIS Threat

Countries in the region have raised security levels and introduced new precautions to counter the threat of terrorist attacks by Islamic State.

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