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Belgium Releases Brussels Bombing Suspect Citing Lack of Evidence

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Belgian authorities have released the only living person they had directly linked to the March 22 terrorist attacks on an airport and subway station in Brussels that killed at least 35 people and injured scores more.

The man identified by police as Fayçal C was freed after the clues that lead to his arrest “were not substantiated by the ongoing inquiry,” the Belgian federal prosecutor said in a statement cited by the BBC.

Named in the local media as a freelance journalist, the man whose full name is believed to be Fayçal Cheffou had been charged with being part of a terrorist group, terrorist murder and attempted terrorist murder after he was initially identified by a taxi driver as the third man seen alongside two suicide bombers in surveillance footage from Brussels’ Zaventem airport on the morning of March 22.

Read More: Eyewitness Accounts From Inside Brussels Airport

Two blasts at the airport, followed by an explosion in the Maelbeek Metro station, have now caused the deaths of 35 people, after four victims initially hospitalized died from their injuries, Belgian Health Minister Maggie De Block said Monday, according to the Associated Press. De Block said over the weekend that 101 out of 270 people injured in the attacks were still being treated, including 32 who are in hospital burns units.

Read More: Brussels Learns to Live in Fear as Manhunts Continue

Despite his release, the charges against Fayçal C reportedly remain. Several other suspects have also been charged but have not been directly linked to the attacks last week. Police have renewed calls for information about the man seen in the airport surveillance footage.

Belgian authorities have come in for harsh criticism for their failure to track the attackers, some of whom were known terrorism suspects believed to have fought with the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) in the Middle East. The extremist group has claimed responsibility for the Brussels attacks, which came just days after Salah Abdeslam, a suspect in the ISIS-claimed assault on Paris in November, was detained in Belgium.


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Write to Simon Lewis at simon_daniel.lewis@timeasia.com