Paris attacks fugitive to sue French prosecutor

Last Updated Mar 20, 2016 11:48 AM EDT

BRUSSELS - Terror suspect Salah Abdeslam's Belgian lawyer said Sunday that he plans to take legal action against a French prosecutor, accusing him of breaching the confidentiality of the investigation into the deadly Nov. 13 rampage in Paris.

Sven Mary told Belgian public broadcaster RTBF that part of the press conference given a day earlier by Paris prosecutor Francois Molins "is a violation. It's a fault, and I cannot let it go unchallenged."

Molins said Abdeslam told Belgian officials he had "wanted to blow himself up at the Stade de France" as a suicide bomber in the November Paris attacks in which 130 people were killed, but that he backed out at the last minute.

Abdeslam, captured Friday in a police raid in Brussels, was charged Saturday with "terrorist murder" by Belgian authorities.

Foreign Minister Didier Reynders said Sunday in response to a question from CBS Radio News correspondent Cami McCormick that Abdeslam "was ready to restart something from Brussels, and it's maybe the reality."

Reynders said authorities are taking the claim seriously because "we found a lot of weapons, heavy weapons in the first investigations, and we have seen a new network of people around him in Brussels."

France is seeking Abdeslam's extradition for trial there, but Mary said he would fight any attempt to hand over his client and that investigators have much to learn from the 26-year-old suspect, who was born in Belgium but has French and Moroccan nationality.

"Salah is of great importance to this investigation. I would even say that he is worth gold. He is cooperating, he is communicating, he is not insisting on his right to silence. I think it would be worthwhile now to give things a bit of time ... for investigators to be able to talk to him," Mary said.

In response, an official in the Paris prosecutor's office said French law allows prosecutors to speak about elements of an investigation. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not allowed to discuss this issue publicly.

Belgian Justice Minister Koen Geens was cautious about how the legal proceedings will unfold against the suspect, but said the kind of extradition procedure being used would limit the possibilities for Abdeslam to appeal.

"It could take two months, two and a half months, and we will not be certain of the result before then," Geens said on RTL television.

The next official step in the legal process comes Wednesday when Abdeslam faces court in Brussels.

The suspect, who could be one of the rare jihadis to face trial and possibly speak during proceedings, awoke Sunday after his first night in a prison just outside the city of Bruges, western Belgium. The prison has a special section for high-profile prisoners, with specially trained guards. Cells have double doors and any furniture or equipment is attached to the floor.

Abdeslam was shot in the leg Friday along with a suspected accomplice when they were captured during a massive anti-terror raid in Brussels. He was found at an apartment a mere 500 yards from his parents' home, where he grew up.

France's BFM television broadcast images Friday of police tugging a man with a white hooded sweatshirt toward a police car, as he dragged his left leg as if it were injured.

CBS News correspondent Charlie D'Agata reports the man is believed to be Abdeslam.

On Saturday, he was discharged from a hospital in Brussels, questioned by authorities lying down due to his gunshot wound and then charged with "participation in terrorist murder."

Isham owns a corner shop and was there when the raid happened.

"We heard shots fired, explosions," he told D'Agata, "and after about 10 minutes we saw a man who had been wounded in the leg."

Molins, the Paris prosecutor, said Abdeslam is suspected not only of being a "key actor in the action" last November in the French capital but also of the logistical planning for the deadly attacks. He said French authorities suspect him of bringing numerous "terrorists" to Europe in the months leading up to the attacks and conducting multiple trips around Europe.

Often using false identities, Abdeslam rented cars starting last July, Molins said, travelling north from Greece and Italy, hitting Hungary in August, Austria in September, and Germany and the Netherlands in October.

Investigators believe Abdeslam drove a car carrying gunmen who took part in the Nov. 13 shootings, rented rooms for them and shopped for detonators. Most of the Paris attackers died on the night of the attacks, including Abdeslam's brother Brahim, who blew himself up.