The Latest: Paris attacks groups demand better state support
BRUSSELS (AP) — The Latest on the investigation into militant attacks in Paris and elsewhere in Europe (all times local):
Paris attacks victims’ associations are calling for better support from the state, including more extensive coverage of medical and judicial expenses and a more coordinated system to help the victims and their entourage.
The groups, which represent the 130 victims of the Nov. 13 attacks and their families, met French President Francois Hollande on Monday at the Elysee palace in Paris.
Georges Salines, president of one Nov. 13 group and father of one of the victims, said Hollande agreed on the need to work on “the deep roots of terrorism and understand why this phenomena of radicalization exists.”
Salines says “security measures are indispensable... but it’s not what will protect us from terrorism on the long term.”
Caroline Langlade, vice president of Life for Paris and survivor of the attack at the Bataclan concert hall, says “efforts to recover, to get our lives back —if at all possible— are going to take a long, long time.”
The Belle Equipe restaurant, one of several locations in Paris attacked by gunmen and suicide bombers on Nov. 13, has reopened Monday with artwork honoring the memories of those who died there.
The restaurant — whose Jewish owner Gregory Reibenberg lost his Muslim wife in the attack — became a symbol of multicultural France. The victims’ names are now displayed in a poppy flower display at the restaurant’s entrance.
Waitress Mylene Poncet said that “it is a nice way to leave a space for those who are gone.”
Belgian federal prosecutor Frederic Van Leeuw says anti-terror investigators are not just working on the Nov. 13 Paris attacks case. He said last year Belgium worked on 315 new anti-terror cases and nearly 60 so far this year alone.
Paris prosecutor Francois Molins says France also has 244 anti-terror cases in progress involving 772 individuals either charged or sought.
Given those numbers, Van Leeuw says it’s clear “we have a general threat.”
The two men spoke at a joint news conference in Brussels, and each stressed the deep coordination between police and prosecutors in France and Brussels in finding Paris attacks suspect Salah Abdeslam on Friday after a four-month search.
A Belgian prosecutor says authorities do not know the “exact path” taken by suspect Salah Abdeslam after he fled the scene of the deadly attacks on Paris in November.
Abdeslam, 26, was arrested in Brussels on Friday after four months on the run.
Belgian prosecutor Frederic Van Leeuw told reporters in Brussels on Monday that investigators hope to find out details about Abdeslam’s actions between the Nov. 13 attacks and his arrest “if he decides to tell us.”
Abdeslam slipped through police fingers on multiple occasions, including the day after the attacks. He was found living 500 yards (meters) from his childhood home.
French President Francois Hollande and other French officials are scheduled to meet with Paris attacks victims’ associations later Monday in Paris.
Hollande had been needled by criticism from some victims for a refusal to meet with the associations. The some of the groups — which represent the 130 victims of the attacks, their families and survivors — are lobbying the French government to shift from what they consider a security-focused approach to fighting terror.
The groups, predicting more attacks, want the government to have a more coordinated system to help victims of terrorism in the immediate aftermath of attacks and over the long term.
Some have lamented chaotic conditions on Nov. 13 and in the following days, when family members struggled to find out if their loved ones were dead or alive, and where they were.
Belgian prosecutors are appealing to the public for information about a man who allegedly traveled to Hungary last year with the top suspect in the Paris attacks.
The federal prosecutor’s office said in a statement Monday that they are seeking details about 24-year-old Najim Laachraoui, who is said to have traveled to Syria in February 2013.
It said Laachraoui was checked by guards at the Austria-Hungary border while driving in a Mercedes with attacks suspect Salah Abdeslam, who was captured in Brussels on Friday, and one other person.
Laachraoui is said to have rented a house under the name of Soufiane Kayal in the Belgian town of Auvelais which was allegedly used as a safe house. Prosecutors said traces of his DNA were found there.