Bruges (Belgium) (AFP) - Europe's most wanted man arrived Saturday afternoon under heavy police escort at a maximum security prison on the outskirts of the scenic Belgian city of Bruges, pending his upcoming extradition procedure to France.
Since 1991, the modern Bruges penitentiary complex has housed some of Belgium's most dangerous suspects including Mehdi Nemmouche, who carried out a fatal attack on the Jewish Museum in Brussels in 2014.
Abdeslam, who arrived in a yellow ambulance flanked by powerful high-speed police vehicles, was to be met by senior prison officials before being taken to the prison's ultra-guarded "Individual and Special Safety" wing, Belgian prisons spokeswoman Kathleen Van De Vijver told AFP.
Built in 2008, the wing was built for house "people who pose an escape risk and those with behavioural problems in the normal prison," Van De Vijver said.
The unit is strictly guarded and all cells have double doors. All furniture like beds are bolted to the floor and television sets are housed behind plexiglas.
Cells are controlled daily for foreign objects that could pose a danger to prisoners.
The prison is being guarded by warders specially trained for the job, Van De Vijver said.
"Each prisoner has a different daily routine, depending on the specific nature of his dossier," she told the Flemish daily De Standaard.
Built in a cross-shape, the prison can accommodate 504 men and 94 women, with mothers allowed to keep their children until age three.
It hosts both accused and convicted prisoners and boasts a special medical centre.