France gives suspected Islamic extremist too much money in damages

The French Justice ministry says a suspected Islamic extremist has been mistakenly granted too much money in damages for being kept in custody before a judge eventually dismissed his case.

Farouk Ben Abbes was placed in custody in 2010 after being given preliminary terrorist charges and he sought damages when he was released after the case was dismissed, the ministry said in a statement released Thursday after press reports disclosed details.

Ben Abbes has also been charged with terrorism offenses in a separate case and is under house arrest awaiting a decision by an investigating judge about whether or not he should face trial.

A first court granted Ben Abbes 17,960 euros ($20,330) in damages relating to the first case, but a second ruling reduced the sum to 6,000 euros ($6,800) after the state filed an appeal, the ministry said.

But, in February, the damages were wrongly paid based on the first ruling instead of the last one. As a result, Ben Abbes received an extra 11,960 euros ($13,560), plus interest and lawyer fees.

The statement says that, "without waiting, all means will be used by the Ministry of Justice to recover the overpayment."

The ministry didn't mention the suspect's name in its statement but said that it referred to "the person mentioned" in the press reports.

Ben Abbes had been charged in 2010 on suspicion of planning to attack the Bataclan, the Paris concert hall that was eventually attacked in November, press reports said. But, at the end of the investigation, the judge decided to dismiss his case due to lack of evidence.

The Belgian-Tunisian is suspected of being close to Fabien Clain, a Frenchman who claimed responsibility for last year's Paris attacks on behalf of the Islamic State group.