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Probe into 2015 Paris jihadist attacks wraps up

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Paris (AFP)

French investigators have wrapped up their probe into the jihadist attacks that killed 130 people on a single day in Paris four years ago, prosecutors said Monday, paving the way for trial.

Prosecutors will now have a month to present their case to judges who will then set a date for a trial, though it could still be at least a year away.

"This is good news," said Jean Reinhart, a lawyer for dozens of the victims.

"It's something we've eagerly been waiting for to help establish the truth" of how the gunmen and suicide bombers planned and carried out the attacks.

Fourteen people have been charged over the November 13, 2015, attacks in which nine men armed with assault rifles and explosives struck outside the national stadium during a France-Germany football match, and later at streetside cafes and the Bataclan concert hall.

Ninety people were killed at the Bataclan alone, and more than 350 wounded overall.

The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the killings, in which eight of the attackers died, seven in their own suicide bombings.

- Subsequent attacks -

Salah Abdeslam, the sole surviving suspected participant in the attacks, was arrested in Brussels and is being detained in France with 10 other people pending trial.

Abdeslam has mostly remained silent when questioned by investigators, though in June 2018 he issued a rare statement in which he justified the killings.

Three other suspects are not in detention but awaiting trial under judicial supervision, the office of the national anti-terror prosecutor (PNAT) said in a statement.

Arrest warrants are out for six more people suspected of involvement, at least some of whom are believed to have been killed in fighting in Syria or Iraq.

They include Fabien Clain, a Frenchman who is believed to have gone to Syria in March 2015 and who later announced the Islamic State's claim of responsibility for the Paris attacks in an audio recording.

The same jihadist cell suspected of the Paris attacks is also believed to have struck the airport and metro system of Brussels in March 2016, killing 32 people.

The PNAT said there would be 1,740 civil parties to the case.

Since the 2015 carnage, France has been hit by a series of jihadist attacks that have killed more than 250 people.

Also on Monday, investigators said they had finished their probe into a jihadist attack on a high-speed Thalys train between Amsterdam and Paris in August 2015, judicial sources told AFP.

Ayoub El Khazzani, a Moroccan citizen, opened fire with an AK-47, wounding two people before being overpowered by three Americans on holiday, two of them off-duty servicemen.

Investigators say he acted under the orders of Abdelhamid Abaaoud, who later went on to plan the Paris attacks in November.

Abaaoud and his accomplice Chakib Akrouh were killed in a police raid at an apartment outside Paris on November 18, five days after the attacks.

No trial date has been set for Khazzani and four others charged in the Thalys attack.

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