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Brussels attack: Belgian police release 'man in the hat' suspect Faycal C citing lack of evidence

The Independent The Independent 28/03/2016 Caroline Mortimer, Adam Withnall

Fayçal C, the man identified by prosecutors as the prime suspect in the hunt for the "man in the hat" at the Brussels airport bombings, has been released by Belgian police due to a lack of evidence.

Named by Belgian media reports as freelance journalist Fayçal Cheffou, police said the suspect had none of the links to the Paris attacks that characterised the three named conspirators who died carrying out last Tuesday's attacks.

Prosecutors had instead been attempting to link Cheffou to the bombings by DNA evidence from the scene, but on Monday let him go saying their suspicions had not been substantiated.

A little while earlier, officials released new CCTV footage of the so-called "man in the hat" seen walking with the two airport bombers, Ibrahim el Bakraoui and Najim Laachraoui, moments before the attack.

Authorities have released the video in the hopes of identifying the man on the right, seen wearing light-coloured clothing and a black hat.

He was pushing a trolley carrying a suitcase containing what police said was the largest bomb of the three but it failed to detonate.

His two accomplices died when their devices exploded in the airport terminal shortly after 8am (7am GMT) killing 11 people and wounding 100 more.

Approximately half an hour later, another suicide bomber detonated at the Maelbeek metro station in the centre of the city killing another 20 people. He has been identified as Khalid El Bakraoui, Ibrahim's brother.

© Sky News On Monday, Belgian authorities announced a further four people had died in hospital following the attacks as a whole, without specifying which.

The death toll does not include the three attackers.

Five men have been arrested following the attacks on 22 March.

Separately three other men, whose names were given as Yassine A, Mohamed B and Aboubaker O, were charged on Monday after being arrested during raids on 13 addresses on Sunday.

A fourth man was released without charge.

Also on Sunday, Dutch authorities announced they had arrested a man in Rotterdam after a request by French authorities and say they plan to extradite him to france to face charges in relation to an alleged foiled attempt to launch an attack on Paris.

Isis have claimed responsibility for the attack, saying it was revenge for Belgium’s role in air strikes against the terror group’s position in Syria and Iraq.

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