Salah Abdeslam described as 'moron from Molenbeek' by own lawyer
Salah Abdeslam, the man accused of taking part in last year's Islamic State (IS)-claimed attacks in France, was described by one of his own lawyers as a "moron" on Wednesday as he was charged in connection with the killing spree that left 130 people dead.
Abdeslam, a French national of Moroccan origin who grew up in Belgium, faces charges including murder, association with a terrorist group, possession of weapons and explosives, and sequestration over the hostage-taking at the Bataclan concert hall where 90 people were killed.
The 26-year-old's court appearance on Wednesday came straight after he had arrived in France by helicopter following his extradition from Belgium, where he was arrested in March after more than four months on the run.
Abdeslam's French lawyer Frak Berton said that another hearing had been set for 20 May and that his client was being held in the Fleury-Merogis prison complex outside of Paris.
Justice Minister Jean-Jacques Urvoas said the suspect would be placed in isolation and monitored by "hardened guards" skilled in handling dangerous detainees.
Jean Reinhart, a lawyer for about 30 families of the attack victims, hailed the extradition, saying "justice is on its way".
Another lawyer for the victims' families, Samia Maktouf, said she hoped Abdeslam would "give elements that would allow the identification of the recruiters and financiers of the terrorist network he belonged to".
Prosecutors believe he was in charge of logistics for the Paris attacks, as he rented cars and hotel rooms used by the IS group attackers.
His brother Brahim detonated his suicide vest in a bar, and Abdeslam himself said he had been expected to do the same outside the national stadium, but had backed out at the last minute.
After revealing that nugget of information in his first interrogation, Abdeslam has since remained silent.
Abdeslam's arrest came just days before coordinated attacks on Brussels airport and a metro station that left 32 people dead.
Police have uncovered clear links between Abdeslam and the three Brussels suicide bombers, but he has said through his Belgian lawyer Sven Mary that he knew nothing about the attacks.
Mary gave a lengthy interview to the Liberation newspaper on Wednesday, describing the difficulty of representing such an infamous client.
"There have been moments when I thought of giving up. If I had known about the Brussels attacks, maybe I would never have taken this case," said Mary.
He described his client as a "little moron from Molenbeek, more a follower than a leader".
"He has the intelligence of an empty ashtray. He is the perfect example of the GTA (Grand Theft Auto video game) generation who thinks he lives in a video game.
"I asked him if he had read the Quran, and he replied that he had read its interpretation on the internet."