Brother of Paris attacks suspect facing jail for theft

Mohamed Abdeslam is on trial alongside two alleged accomplices for stealing 68,000 euros ($79,000) of public money in January from the gritty Brussels district of Molenbeek.

The money, that has not been recovered, was stolen in broad daylight as local administration employees emerged from a car to deposit cash bags at a bank.

Mohamed was accused of being the brains behind the robbery and driving the getaway car.

He was living off unemployment benefits at the time and needed money for a project to open a sheesha bar in Brussels, the court heard.

Mohamed has denied any violence was used and claimed the robbery was "a piece of theatre".

His lawyer Yannick De Vlaemynck told AFP after the hearing that four years was too long.

"That's a sentence for robbery with violence, but if there was no violence I believe it's a disproportionate sentence," he said.

Mohamed was sacked in 2016 from a job he held for 10 years in the Molenbeek local administration.

The defence will be heard on Thursday and a verdict is expected in about a month.

Salah Abdeslam, in custody in France over the November 2015 attacks that left 130 people dead, has refused to cooperate with French judges since his arrest five months after the atrocities. He is expected to go on trial in 2019.

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