On Tuesday, a Bulgarian court said it will extradite a Frenchman who was a business partner of the two brothers who shot dead 12 people at the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo’s offices in Paris.
According to his lawyer, Fritz-Joly Joachin has acknowledged his connections to the brothers and even played football with them, but he denies being part of an Islamist militant group.
“He is ready to be extradited to France to prove his innocence.” the lawyer told reporters on Tuesday.
“Joachin, a 29-year-old Muslim convert of Haitian origin, was arrested by Bulgarian police on Jan. 1, before the Paris attack, at a border checkpoint when he tried to cross into Turkey,” Reuters reported.
He was initially held on a European arrest warrant that alleged he had abducted his three-year-old son and was likely to take him to Syria – an accusation he denies.
A second European arrest warrant later alleged Joachin had participated in a criminal group that plotted acts of terrorism, for which he could face 10 years in prison.
“Joachin, a construction worker with no previous criminal convictions, was traveling with a man allegedly part of an Islamist network in Paris. Also with them was the sister of a man in jail for being part of a network that sent fighters to Syria,” the warrant said.
After a short hearing at court, a Bulgarian prosecutor in the southern town of Haskovo told reporters that Joachin would be extradited within 10 days, but it could come much sooner.
“He can be even extradited tomorrow,” Darina Slavova said.
Radi Radev, Joachin’s Bulgarian lawyer, said: “He (Joachin) does not deny that he had contacts with Kouachi brothers. He said he contacted one of the brothers in July.”
“But he says he had no idea what they were engaged in. According to him, they were business partners and they have played football together.”
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