Released Brussels terrorism suspect proclaims innocence

Faycal Cheffou, the man released after being charged with terrorist murder over last week’s bomb attacks in Brussels, declared his innocence on Tuesday, the Belga news agency reported his lawyer as saying.

The triple bomb attacks on Brussels’ international airport and the Maelbeek subway station have so far claimed at least 35 lives. Almost 100 people are still in hospital, more than half of whom remained in intensive care as of Monday.

The Islamic State extremist group claimed responsibility for the attacks, perpetrated by three suicide bombers.

Since the attacks, Belgian police have been trying to track down a fourth suspect who dropped off an explosive device at the airport and then left.

Belgian media had reported that the man was Faycal Cheffou, who was taken into custody on Thursday. On Saturday, prosecutors said that a man they identified as Faycal C had been charged with terrorist murder, attempted terrorist murder and participation in the activities of a terrorist group.


But he was released again on Monday because the clues leading to his arrest were not backed up by evidence, the prosecution said.

He is the only person to have been charged so far in relation to the Brussels attacks. He was detained after a taxi driver picked him out of a photo array, local media reported.

Cheffou’s lawyer Olivier Martins said his client had declared that he was innocent, was opposed to the Islamic State and had no link with the terrorists involved in the attack, Belga reported Tuesday.

Martins had insisted on a verification of his client’s fingerprints, DNA and his physiognomy, Belga wrote. Video surveillance released of the fugitive suspect shows a man with a stockier build than the images of Cheffou disseminated in the media.

“The formal recognition by the taxi driver sowed the seeds of the judicial error, in my mind,” Martins said according to Belga.

Meanwhile, Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj announced that Raghavendran Ganeshan, an Indian software engineer who went missing after the Brussels attacks, had been identified by Belgian authorities as one of the victims.

“A young life, full of hope and promise cut short by mindless violence. … Condolences to family of Raghavendran, who lost his life in Brussels,” Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi wrote on Twitter.

Ganeshan, 31, was working for Indian IT firm Infosys on a project in Brussels. He is survived by his wife and a one-month-old baby.

His death comes in addition to eight other foreign nationalities among those who lost their lives, in addition to Belgians. Other victims came from Germany, Italy, France, Sweden, Britain, the Netherlands, the United States and China. – DPA/ANA

Subscribe to the M&G

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years, and we’ve survived right from day one thanks to the support of readers who value fiercely independent journalism that is beholden to no-one. To help us continue for another 35 future years with the same proud values, please consider taking out a subscription.

Related stories

Advertising

Subscribers only

Poachers in prisons tell their stories

Interviews with offenders provide insight into the structure of illegal wildlife trade networks

Covid-overflow hospital in ruins as SIU investigates

A high-level probe has begun into hundreds of millions of rand spent by the Gauteng health department to refurbish a hospital that is now seven months behind schedule – and lying empty

More top stories

The politics of the Zuma-Zondo showdown

Any move made by the Zondo commission head or by former president Jacob Zuma must be calculated, because one mistake from either side could lead to a political fallout

Museveni declared winner of disputed Uganda election

Security personnel out in force as longtime president wins sixth term and main challenger Bobi Wine alleges rigging.

Pay-TV inquiry probes the Multichoice monopoly

Africa’s largest subscription television operator says it is under threat amid the emerging popularity of global platforms like Netflix and Amazon Prime

​No apology or comfort as another Marikana mother dies without...

Nomawethu Ma’Bhengu Sompeta, whose funeral will be held this weekend, was unequivocal in calling out the government for its response to the Marikana massacre
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…