Armed French soldiers patrol in front of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, France, following the shooting attacks in the French capital. File photo: REUTERS
Armed French soldiers patrol in front of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, France, following the shooting attacks in the French capital. File photo: REUTERS

Brussels — On Monday, Belgian authorities handed a key suspect in the 2015 Paris attacks and 2016 Brussels bombings over to France for questioning ahead of possible terror charges by French prosecutors.

Osama Krayem, a Swede of Syrian origin, was transferred "for one day to the French judicial authorities on the subject of his hearing and possible indictment by the investigating judge in Paris", Belgian prosecutors said in a statement.

Investigators suspect the 25-year-old of playing a key role in the jihadist cell behind the attacks in Paris, which killed 130 people, and Brussels, which left 32 people dead. Both were claimed by Islamic State (IS).

Krayem is suspected of buying the bags used for the Brussels attacks and was caught on CCTV minutes before one of the blasts with suicide bomber Khalid el Bakraoui both carrying huge backpacks. Krayem failed to go through with his suicide attack.

Like other members of the cell, Krayem travelled to Syria after 2014 before apparently hiding himself among migrants in order to return to Europe from Syria in 2015.

Two years after he was arrested in Brussels in April 2016, questions remain over Krayem’s true role in the attacks. Questioned repeatedly in Belgium, he has denied any role in the Paris attacks and in making bombs.

According to the terms of the arrest warrant issued by France in 2016, Krayem faces questioning and possible charges for "involvement in terrorist murders", "associating with terrorist criminals", and for producing explosive devices.

Traces of Krayem’s DNA were found in several hideouts in Belgium used by the Paris attackers, in particular the place used to make the explosive belts used in the Paris attacks.

AFP