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article imageBrother of Paris attacks suspect tried for 'fake' robbery

By AFP     Sep 10, 2018 in Crime

The brother of jihadist Salah Abdeslam, the sole surviving suspect in the Paris attacks, alleged on Monday that he participated in a fake, "staged" robbery in order to resolve money problems.

Mohamed Abdeslam was tried in a Belgian court for aggravated robbery alongside two alleged accomplices over an incident that took place on January 23 in Brussels.

Abdeslam and the co-defendants were accused of stealing 68,000 euros ($79,000) of public money belonging to the gritty district of Molenbeek that was never recovered.

"It was staged, a piece of theatre where everyone had their role, and it was out of the question to hurt anyone," said the star defendant.

But one co-defendant, a city employee identified as Pierre-Raphael C., claimed to be a victim of the heist and denied the robbery was fake.

The events took place in broad daylight when Pierre-Raphaƫl C. and another employee -- who has not been charged -- were seemingly attacked as they emerged from a car to deposit cash bags at a bank.

Abdeslam is accused of driving the getaway car which belonged to the alleged attacker and co-defendant Youssef B., who denied any involvement.

The court proceedings revealed that Mohamed Abdeslam, whose only income was unemployment benefits, needed money for a project to open a shisha bar in Brussels.

Abdeslam, who faces a 15-year jail sentence, is a former employee of the Molenbeek district, but was fired after the deadly attacks in Paris.

In addition to Salah, another brother, Brahim, died as a suicide bomber in the deadly events of November 2015 in Paris.

The trial is set to resume on September 19.

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