UPDATE 9:00 p.m. EDT: Salah Abdeslam, the prime surviving suspect of the Paris terrorist attacks, told Belgian investigators Saturday that he had planned to blow himself up during the attack but changed his mind, Reuters reported.
“He wanted to blow himself up at the Stade de France and ... backed out," said the lead French investigator, Francois Molins, quoting Abdeslam's statement to a magistrate in Brussels, Reuters reported.
Original story: France has issued a new European arrest warrant for Salah Abdeslam in order to speed up his extradition from Belgium, the Associated Press reported Saturday. Abdeslam, the prime surviving suspect of the grisly terrorist attacks in Paris last year, was apprehended Friday during a raid in Brussels.
Abdeslam, who was injured during the raid, left the hospital Saturday and appeared before a Belgian magistrate. He also met twice with his attorney, who said Abdeslam plans to fight extradition.
“He is cooperating with Belgian justice," Sven Mary told reporters Saturday in Brussels, NBC News reported. "France is asking for his extradition. I can tell you that we will refuse the extradition to France."
After doctors deem Abdeslam fit to face questioning, he will be interrogated by Belgian investigators, possibly in the presence of French authorities, USA Today reported. His lawyer might be present for the discussions.
“If he starts talking, then I presume it will mean he stays longer in Belgium,” said Eric Van Der Sypt, spokesman for the Belgian federal prosecutor's office, USA Today reported. But “sooner or later he will be extradited to France,” he said.
While Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel said Saturday in a news conference his government has no “political objections” to handing Abdeslam over to the French, he said he wants to fully respect the Belgian judicial procedure, which could “take at least a couple of weeks.”
Abdeslam, 26, had been on the run for months following the Paris terrorist attacks. He is suspected of having helped transport three suicide bombers to the Stade France, where they blew themselves up, and is also believed to have purchased the detonators. On Saturday, Belgian prosecutors formally charged Abdeslam with involvement in terrorist murder. The coordinated attacks in Paris marked the first major terrorist attack for which the Islamic State extremist group claimed responsibility.
"I wouldn't say that I felt any relief that [he] has been arrested because it's really hard to put just one face to such a huge atrocity," said Charlotte Brehaut, a France 24 journalist, NBC News reported. "Obviously I think it is such an important step ... and we can't lose sight of that, but at the same time, it's one person in a larger operation."