August 10, 2016 12:18 pm

Man with suspected ties to Charlie Hebdo attack tells court he’s the victim of injustice

Mastioucha Peres, 30, from Paris, lights candles during a gathering that marks one year after the attacks on Charlie Hebdo satirical newspaper, in Paris, France, Thursday, Jan. 7, 2016. It's a year to the day since an attack on the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo launched a bloody year in the French capital. Tensions in France, under a state of emergency since a wave of attacks on Nov. 13, have been even higher this week as the anniversary of the January attacks approached. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)

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A French citizen with ties to the attack on the Charlie Hebdo satirical newspaper in Paris told a court in Bulgaria Wednesday that he is a victim of injustice.

Mourad Hamyd was arrested on a French arrest warrant in Bulgaria on July 29 for alleged involvement in terrorist activities.

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He is the brother-in-law of Cherif Kouachi, one of the men who attacked Charlie Hebdo in January 2015. He was initially suspected of a role in the attack on the paper, but his high school classmates launched a successful social media campaign to clear his name, saying he was in class at the time.

French authorities now suspect he planned to join the Islamic State group in Syria or Iraq.

Clad in black and wearing glasses, Hamyd shouted “This is unjust!” before he was brought into the Sofia City Court in handcuffs.

READ MORE: What’s next for Charlie Hebdo and Paris?

The tall and thin 20-year-old asked for the court hearing to be held behind closed doors but the court did not respect his request.

He agreed to be extradited to France, but added at the end of the hearing:

“I think that I am a victim of injustice. I have been declared a terrorist only because of suspicions.”

Judge Tsvetanka Borilova said “it has been established that the defendant had visited sites with jihadi content and had intended to join the Islamic State group in Syria or Iraq.”

Under the extradition act and the European arrest warrant, Hamyd has the right to ask for immediate extradition, while under Bulgarian law he can withdraw his request within three days.

The court said that it will deliver a ruling next week.

If it decides to hand Hamyd to France and he is found guilty of the terror charges he could face up to 10 years in prison.

The arrest warrant was based on his sister Khadija’s report to police that her brother had boarded a train via Hungary and Serbia to Bulgaria, even though he had told her he would travel to Morocco.

“This route corresponds with the route that is usually chosen by the jihadist volunteers that want to join the Islamic State group in Syria or Iraq,” the arrest warrant said.

© 2016 The Canadian Press

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