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Paris attack suspect refuses to speak at first French court hearing

Salah Abdeslam was brought to court in central Paris from his cell in a high-security prison.

French police and members of the National Gendarmerie Intervention Group (GIGN) escort a convoy transporting a surviving member of the group that carried out Paris terror attacks suspect Salah Abdeslam to Paris courthouse for his first questioning by anti-terror judges in Paris on 20 May 2016. Picture: Matthieu Alexandre/AFP.

PARIS - The man prosecutors believe is the sole survivor of the Islamist group that attacked Paris in November appeared in a French court for the first time on Friday, but refused to speak.

Salah Abdeslam was brought to court in central Paris from his cell in a high-security prison outside the city, but the hearing was cut short after it became clear he would not talk.

"From the start he made clear he would be exercising his right to silence, refusing to respond to questions from the judge," a spokesman from the prosecutor's office said in a text message to Reuters.

Abdeslam's lawyer said last month that the Belgian-born Frenchman would speak at the hearing.

The 26-year-old was placed under formal investigation on terrorism and murder charges on 27 April after his extradition from Belgium.

Abdeslam was Europe's most wanted fugitive until his capture in Brussels on 18 March after a four-month manhunt. The shootings and suicide bombings in Paris on 13 November killed 130 people.

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